Acid deposition induced losses of calcium (Ca) from northeastern forests have had negative effects on forest health for decades, including the mobilization of potentially phytotoxic aluminum (Al) from soils. To evaluate the impact of changes in Ca and Al availability on sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) and American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.) growth and forest composition following a major ice storm in 1998, we measured xylem annual increment, foliar cation concentrations, American beech root sprouting, and tree mortality at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (Thornton, New Hampshire) in control plots and in plots amended with Ca or Al (treated plots) beginning in 1995.
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Forests of northeastern North America have been exposed to anthropogenic acidic inputs for decades, resulting in altered cation relations and disruptions to associated physiological processes in multiple tree species, including sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.). In the current study, the impacts of calcium (Ca) and aluminum (Al) additions on mature sugar maple physiology were evaluated at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (Thornton, NH, USA) to assess remediation (Ca addition) or exacerbation (Al addition) of current acidified conditions. Fine root cation concentrations and membrane integrity, carbon (C) allocation, foliar cation concentrations and antioxidant activity, foliar response to a spring freezing event and reproductive ability (flowering, seed quantity, filled seed and seed germination) were evaluated for dominant sugar maple trees in a replicated plot study.