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Keywords:

  • ecosystem health;
  • FT-IR;
  • metabolomics;
  • nitrogen deposition;
  • partial least-squares regression analysis;
  • plant biochemistry

Abstract

Nitrogen emissions and atmospheric deposition are globally significant with the potential to alter ecosystem nutrient balance, provoking changes in vegetation composition. Shifts in plant biochemistry are good indicators of nitrogen pollution and have been used to monitor vegetation health. Fourier transform-infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy has previously been shown to be a rapid and relatively inexpensive method for evaluating leaf biochemistry. In the present study, FT-IR spectra were collected from Galium saxatile samples taken from sites across the United Kingdom. Spectral changes in the tissue samples were correlated with a gradient of N deposition using partial least squares regression analysis. We show that FT-IR analysis of G. saxatile leaf tissue is an effective way to evaluate nitrogen deposition across the entire UK landscape.