A study involving three CREAF researchers has found that plants with low nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in their leaves do not reproduce every year to enable them to reproduce on a huge scale in years in which conditions are right. Oaks, holm oaks and beeches are examples of trees that behave in such a way.
Mean male height in countries with a high level of GDP is 23 cm greater than in countries with a low level, a difference that has risen by 1.5 cm over the last 30 years. Thanks to a more varied diet rich in animal products, the annual nitrogen and phosphorus intake of people in wealthy countries is practically twice that of those in poor countries.
Freshwater ecosystems near densely populated areas have levels of phosphorus which are very high and out of balance with nitrogen levels. This has resulted in altered ecosystem functioning, lower water quality, and has made water conservation more difficult.
According to the study in which CREAF participated, China contributes 43% of this amount. For decades it had been thought that human activities were responsible for only around 5% of atmospherically-circulating phosphorus. More phosphorus in the air means more phosphors deposited on the ground. This can boost plant growth and the capacity to sequester atmospheric CO2; for that reason human activities may be altering the phosphorus and carbon cycles to a degree which was previously unknown
The team of Josep Peñuelas, researcher of CREAF and lecturer of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), was selected for a Synergy Grant, the prestigious grant offered by the European Research Council to projects by research groups of renowned excellence with interest in jointly solving vanguard research problems in the field of science.