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Mineral element composition of declining and healthy stands of red spruce in western Massachusetts

Communications in Soil Science & Plant Analysis 24(15-16): 1937-1944

Mineral element composition of declining and healthy stands of red spruce in western Massachusetts

Concentrations of N, P, K Ca, Mg, and Mn were determined in one-, two-, and five-year-old needles from upper and lower crowns of declining and healthy red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) to assess nutritional deficiencies as causes of severe defoliation in upper-elevation forests in western Massachusetts. Concentrations of N and K did not differ between stands or positions in crowns but decreased with leaf age. In declining stands, mean Ca concentrations were the same in the upper and lower crowns (3.2 mg g-1), whereas in healthy stands, Ca was higher in the lower crown (4.8 mg g-1) than in the upper crown (3.9 mg g-1). Five-year-old needles of healthy trees had higher Ca than those of declining trees (6.0 and 3.8 mg g-1, respectively). Mean concentrations of P and Mg in declining trees were 0.9 and 0.5 mg g-1, respectively, with each element being at threshold levels of sufficiency. Mean concentrations of P and Mg, respectively, were 0.3 mg g-1 and 0.2 mg g-1 lower in needles of declining trees than in healthy trees. Five-year-old needles of declining trees were lower in P and Mg than those from healthy trees. Mean Mn concentrations were lower in needles of declining trees than in healthy trees (0.4 vs 1.3 mg g-1). The results suggest that low P, Mg, and possibly Ca concentrations in needles of declining trees may contribute to the decline.

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Accession: 002433828

DOI: 10.1080/00103629309368928

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