Sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) decline during 1979-1989 in northern Pennsylvania

P. J. Drohan, S. L. Stout, G. W. Petersen

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54 Scopus citations


Sugar maple decline has been observed in northern Pennsylvania since the early 1980s. We investigated the interactions between soil moisture stresses in sugar maple and other factors, such as soil chemistry, insect defoliation, geology, aspect, slope, topography, and atmospheric deposition. In the summer of 1998, we sampled 28 sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) plots drawn from the USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) plots, containing declining and non-declining sugar maple trees across northern Pennsylvania for a variety of soil physical and chemical parameters, site characteristics, and tree health. Foliage from declining plots was found to have significantly lower base cations and higher Mn as compared to that from non-declining plots. Soils in declining plots had lower base cations and pH, a Ca:A1- ≤ 1, lower percent clay and higher percent sand and rock fragments than soils on non-declining plots, suggesting that trees on declining plots are at risk of nutritional and drought stress. Regression relationships between foliar and soil chemistry indicated that foliar nutrition was highly correlated with soil chemistry in the upper 50 cm of the soil. Declining sugar maple plots in this study occurred at higher elevations on sandstone dominated geologies. Soils were found to be base poor-sandy soils that contained high percentages of rock fragments. Soils below 50 cm on declining plots had lower soil pH and foliar chemistry indicated lower foliar base cations. A trend, while not significant was found with declining plots experiencing a greater number of and more severe insect defoliations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Oct 15 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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