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Title: Status of soil acidification in North America

Author: Fenn, Mark E.; Huntington, T.G.; McLaughlin, S.B.; Eager, C.; Gomez, A.; Cook, R.B.;

Date: 2006

Source: Journal of Forest Science 52:3-13

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Forest soil acidification and depletion of nutrient cations have been reported for several forested regions in North America, predominantly in the eastern United States, including the northeast and in the central Appalachians, but also in parts of southeastern Canada and the southern U.S. Continuing regional inputs of nitrogen and sulfur are of concern because of leaching of base cations, increased availability of soil Al, and the accumulation and ultimate transmission of acidity from forest soils to streams. Losses of calcium from forest soils and forested watersheds have now been documented as a sensitive early indicator and a functionally significant response to acid deposition for a wide range of forest soils in North America. For red spruce, a clear link has been established between acidic deposition, alterations in calcium and aluminum supplies and increased sensitivity to winter injury. Cation depletion appears to contribute to sugar maple decline on some soils, specifically the high mortality rates observed in northern Pennsylvania over the last decade. While responses to liming have not been systematically examined in North America, in a study in Pennsylvania, restoring basic cations through liming increased basal area growth of sugar maple and levels of calcium and magnesium in soil and foliage. In the San Bernardino Mountains in southern California near the west coast, the pH of the A horizon has declined by at least 2 pH units (to pH 4.0–4.3) over the past 30 years, with no detrimental effects on bole growth; presumably, because of the Mediterranean climate, base cation pools are still high and not limiting for plant growth.

Keywords: Calcium depletion, acidic deposition, base cations, red spruce, sugar maple, liming, winter injury, forest health

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Fenn, Mark E.; Huntington, T.G.; McLaughlin, S.B.; Eager, C.; Gomez, A.; Cook, R.B. 2006. Status of soil acidification in North America. Journal of Forest Science 52:3-13


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