Forest ecosystems in the Eastern USA are threatened by acid deposition rates that have increased dramatically since industrialization. We utilized two watersheds at the Fernow Experimental Forest in West Virginia to examine long-term effects of acidification on ecological processes. One watershed has been treated with ammonium sulfate (approximately twice the ambient deposition rate) since 1989 to simulate elevated acidic deposition, while the other served as a control. Prior to treatment, both watersheds were similar in age and species composition. Ten dominant overstory Prunus serotina and Liriodendron tulipifera trees were selected and cored from each watershed to measure bolewood concentrations of essential elements through time. In addition, changes in tree species basal area were analyzed utilizing 50 long-term growth plots. Results of this experiment show lower calcium and magnesium concentration and increased acidic cation concentration for both species in the treated watershed, indicating a negative treatment effect. Growth response, measured through relative growth rates of cored trees and changes in basal area from growth plots, was not as conclusive and appeared to differ by species. The resulting difference in species response indicates that acidification sensitivity is something that land managers should consider when managing forests affected by acidification.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry
- Ecological Modeling
- Water Science and Technology