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Geosphere-biosphere circulation of chemical elements in soil and plant systems from a 100 km transect from southern central Norway

Reimann, Clemens, Fabian, Karl, Flem, Belinda, Andersson, Malin, Filzmoser, Peter, Englmaier, Peter
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.639 pp. 129-145
Betula, C horizons, Picea, Pinus, Vaccinium vitis-idaea, aluminum, anthropogenic activities, barium, bark, blueberries, branches, cadmium, calcium, cobalt, copper, elemental composition, ferns and fern allies, geochemistry, iron, lead, leaves, magnesium, manganese, mercury, metabolism, molybdenum, mosses and liverworts, nickel, organic horizons, potassium, rubidium, silver, sodium, soil-plant interactions, strontium, tin, variance, zinc, Norway
Geochemical element separation is studied in 14 different sample media collected at 41 sites along an approximately 100-km long transect north of Oslo. At each site, soil C and O horizons and 12 plant materials (birch/spruce/cowberry/blueberry leaves/needles and twigs, horsetail, braken fern, pine bark and terrestrial moss) were sampled. The observed concentrations of 29 elements (K, Ca, P, Mg, Mn, S, Fe, Zn, Na, B, Cu, Mo, Co, Al, Ba, Rb, Sr, Ti, Ni, Pb, Cs, Cd, Ce, Sn, La, Tl, Y, Hg, Ag) were used to investigate soil-plant relations, and to evaluate the element differentiation between different plants, or between foliage and twigs of the same plant. In relation to the soil C horizon, the O horizon is strongly enriched (O/C ratio > 5) in Ag, Hg, Cd, Sn, S and Pb. Other elements (B, K, Ca, P, S, Mn) show higher concentrations in the plants than in the substrate represented by the C horizon, and often even higher concentrations than in the soil O horizon. Elements like B, K, Ca, S, Mg, P, Ba, and Cu are well tuned to certain concentration levels in most of the plants. This is demonstrated by their lower interquartile variability in the plants than in the soil.Cross-plots of element concentration, variance, and ratios, supported by linear discrimination analysis, establish that different plants are marked by their individual element composition, which is separable from, and largely independent of the natural substrate variability across the Gjøvik transect. Element allocation to foliage or twigs of the same plants can also be separated and thus dominantly depend on metabolism, physiology, and structure linked to biological functions, and only to a lesser degree on the substrate and environmental background. The results underline the importance of understanding the biological mechanisms of plant-soil interaction in order to correctly quantify anthropogenic impact on soil and plant geochemistry.