Soil and Tree Chemistry Reflected the Cumulative Impact of Acid Deposition in Pinus banksiana and Populus tremuloides Stands in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region in Western Canada
The spatial variability of soil chemistry and Ca/Al ratios of soil solution and fine roots were investigated in jack pine (Pinus banksiana) and trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides, aspen) stands to assess the impact of chronic acid deposition on boreal forest ecosystems in the Athabasca oil sands region (AOSR) in Alberta, Canada. Available SO42− (as the sum of soluble and adsorbed SO42−) accumulated in the soil near tree boles of both species, reflecting the influence of canopy intercepted SO42−. In jack pine stands, pH and soluble base cation concentrations decreased towards tree boles due to increased SO42− leaching; the reverse was found in aspen stands due to deposition of base cations leached from the canopy. As a result, Ca/Al ratios in the soluble fraction in soils near jack pine boles were 5–20 times lower than that near aspen boles. The Ca/Al ratio did not reach the critical limits of 1.0 for soil solution (ranged from 1.0 to 4.1) or 0.5 for fine roots (0.7–7.9) in the studied watersheds. However, Aln+ concentrations in the soil solution ranged from 0.2 to 4.1 mg L−1 in NE7 and from 0.1 to 8.5 mg L−1 in SM8 that can inhibit the growth of white spruce (Picea glauca) seedlings that commonly succeed aspen in upland sites in the AOSR. We suggest that the spatial variation caused by tree canopies/stems will affect forest regeneration and the effect of acid deposition on forest succession in the AOSR should be further studied.
Jung, K and Chang, SX. 2013. Soil and tree chemistry reflected the cumulative impact of acid deposition in Pinus banksiana and Populus tremuloides stands in the Athabasca oil sands region in western Canada. Ecological Indicators. 25(35-44)