Terrestrial ecosystems near breeding/roosting colonies of piscivorous seabirds can receive a large amount of marine-derived N in the form of bird feces. It has been well demonstrated that N input from seabirds strongly affects plant communities in forests or coastal grasslands. The effects of nutrient input on plant communities in agricultural ecosystems near seabird colonies, however, have rarely been evaluated. This relationship was examined in rice-paddy fields irrigated by a pond system located near a colony of the Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo in Aichi, central Japan. In the present study, spatial variations in N content (N %) and N stable isotope composition (δ15N) of soils and wild grass species together with the growth height of plants in paddy fields in early spring (fallow period) were examined. Soils had a higher N % and δ15N values in fields associated with an irrigation pond that had N input from cormorants. The δ15N values tended to be higher around the inlet of irrigation waters, relative to the outlet. These results indicate that cormorant-derived N was input into the paddy fields via the irrigation systems. Plants growing in soil with higher δ15N had higher δ15N in the above-ground part of the plants and had luxurious growth. A positive correlation in plant height and δ15N of NO3-N was observed in soil plough horizons.
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