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Andrew Bingham

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The deciduous forest ecosystems of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) occupies the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The GSMNP protects the headwaters for forty-five watersheds, and is home to more than fifty percent of the old-growth forest remaining in the eastern United States. Although national parks are highly protected, many threats to preserved ecosystems, such as air pollution, originate outside the park and can have detrimental effects on the park’s resources. The National Park Service studied the effects from ozone pollution on two important ecosystem services provided by GSMNP: climate stabilization and water provision.
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Eutrophication of landscapes from excessive nitrogen deposition can alter plant communities, and lead to acidification of soils, lakes, and streams. The effects of air pollution on ecosystem functions have been a particular research focus of the National Park Service’s (NPS) Air Resources Division. Links between atmospheric deposition and ecosystem services can inform park managers about how excessive nitrogen and sulfur can affect those who use and depend publicly managed landscapes. By improving upon these linkages, the NPS can enhance park management by better representing the effects from air pollution on ecosystem functions.
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