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Basal Area Growth of Sugar Maple in Relation to Acid Deposition, Stand Health, and Soil Nutrients

Duchesne, Louis, Ouimet, Rock, Houle, Daniel
Journal of environmental quality 2002 v.31 no.5 pp. 1676-1683
Acer saccharum subsp. saccharum, acid deposition, acid soils, acidity, basal area, cations, ecosystems, forest decline, forest growth, forests, leaching, monitoring, nutrients, soil acidification, soil nutrients, soil pH, soil weathering, trees
Previous studies have shown in noncalcareous soils that acid deposition may have increased soil leaching of basic cations above the input rate from soil weathering and atmospheric depositions. This phenomenon may have increased soil acidity levels, and, as a consequence, may have reduced the availability of these essential nutrients for forest growth. Fourteen plots of the Forest Ecosystem Research and Monitoring Network in Québec were used to examine the relation between post-industrial growth trends of sugar maple (Marsh.) and acid deposition (N and S), stand decline rate, and soil exchangeable nutrient concentrations. Atmospheric N and S deposition and soil exchangeable acidity were positively associated with stand decline rate, and negatively with the average tree basal area increment trend. The growth rate reduction reached on average 17% in declining stands compared with healthy ones. The results showed a significant sugar maple growth rate reduction since 1960 on acid soils. The appearance of the forest decline phenomenon in Québec can be attributed, at least partially, to soil acidification and acid deposition levels.