DETERMINATION OF CALCIUM, MAGNESIUM, AND ALUMINUM IN RED SPRUCE (Picea rubens) FOLIAGE AND SURROUNDING SOIL FROM THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK AND RICHLAND BALSAM USING ICP-OES

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Wesley W. Bintz (Creator)
Institution
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/

Abstract: The southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest is a unique ecosystem in North America which consists of red spruce (Picea rubens) and Fraser fir (Abies Frasen). Found at elevations above 4500' and inhabiting 26,609 hectares in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, these boreal forests are remnants of the last ice age. The co-dominant Fraser fir has been enduring an exotic predator since the 1960s, the balsam woolly adelgid (Adelges picaea) , which has caused heavy mortality. Bruck and Robarge have reported a decline of the red spruce in the southern Appalachians and attributed the decline to acid deposition. Regional fossil fuel combustion accelerates acid deposition(SO42- / - and N03) As the natural buffering capacity of the soil is exceeded, nutrients such as calcium and magnesium combine with the sulfates and nitrates and become less available to root uptake. It is the increase in mobility of the nutrients calcium and magnesium and the toxic aluminum that has been adversely affecting the red spruce. By determining Ca, Mg, and AI in soils and foliage, a characterization of the effects of acid deposition on forest health can be achieved. Sample sites include Balsam High Top, Clingman's Dome, Double Spring Gap, Mt. LeConte, Mt.Sterling , and Spruce Mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (NC,TN), and Richland Balsam on the Blue Ridge Parkway (NC). Foliar samples were collected from 30 red spruce at each site. The red spruce was then divided into three categories by height: 10 mature (above 4meters), 10 saplings (2 to 4 meters), 10 seedlings (less than 2 meters). A soil sample was also collected for each tree. The samples were digested and analyzed by Inductively Coupled Plasma - Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES). A statistical (t-test) analysis was performed on the results. Due to the large standard deviations found at each sample site, there is insufficient evidence to indicate that elevation or geography affects the rate of acid deposition in the spruce-fir forest of the southern Appalachians. There was also little significant evidence suggesting that regional sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen emissions affect the health of the red spruce.

Additional Information

Publication
Dissertation
Language: English
Date: 2006

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