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Are soils beneath coniferous tree stands more acidic than soils beneath deciduous tree stands?

Burgess-Conforti, Jason R., Moore, Philip A., Jr, Owens, Phillip R., Miller, David M., Ashworth, Amanda J., Hays, Phillip D., Evans-White, Michelle A., Anderson, Kelsey R.
Environmental science and pollution research international 2019 v.26 no.15 pp. 14920-14929
acidification, acidity, aquatic ecosystems, calcium, cation exchange capacity, conifers, exchangeable calcium, magnesium, mulberries, rivers, soil pH, trees, water solubility, watersheds, Ozarks
In 2008, the Mulberry River, a National Wild and Scenic River, was listed as impaired due to low pH (below pH 6.0). Over the last 50 years, the volume of conifers in the Ozark region has increased 115% since 1978 which may result in the acidification of nearby aquatic ecosystems. The objective of this study was to determine if differences exist in soil and litter chemical properties between deciduous and coniferous tree stands. Aboveground litter (n = 200) and soil (n = 400) at 0- to 5- and 5- to 15-cm depths were collected at paired deciduous and coniferous stands at 10 locations within the Mulberry River watershed and analyzed for a suite of chemical parameters. There were no differences (P > 0.05) in several measures of soil acidity between deciduous and coniferous stands. Litter collected from the coniferous stands was more acidic than deciduous litter (4.4 vs 4.7; P < 0.05). Cation exchange capacity, exchangeable Ca and Mg, and water-soluble P and Mg contents differed (P < 0.05) by stand and depth. Cation exchange capacity and exchangeable Ca and Mg were greatest in the 0- to 5-cm depth interval of the coniferous stands. Water-soluble P and Mg contents were greatest within the 0- to 5-cm depth interval which did not differ (P > 0.05) between stand but were greater than the 5- to 15-cm depth interval. Although limited to the top 15-cm of soil, the similarity in soil acidity between stands suggests that conifer growth may not be a substantial source of acidity to the Mulberry River.