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Access to the article is free, however registration and sign-in are required Discoveries of microbial pathways, players, and population dynamics challenge conventional models of the nitrogen cycle. Global biogeochemical models rely on field measurements of nitrogen concentrations and fluxes, combined with rate constants from a few known organisms, to balance the net flux of nitrogen. Thus, incomplete knowledge of microbial diversity and ecological dynamics may mislead estimates of fluxes in the nitrogen cycle.The scientific community must better understand how changes in community and population dynamics are related to nitrogen transformation rates and how both the players and the processes respond to disturbances. Only by understanding nitrogen cycling at a range of scales of biological organization can scientists predict how anthropogenic pressures will influence local and global nitrogen dynamics.
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