Forest floor lead, copper and zinc concentrations across the northeastern United States: Synthesizing spatial and temporal responses

TitleForest floor lead, copper and zinc concentrations across the northeastern United States: Synthesizing spatial and temporal responses
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsRichardson, JB, Donaldson, EC, Kaste, JM, Friedland, AJ
JournalScience of The Total Environment
Volume505
Pagination851 - 859
Date Published2015/02/01/
ISBN Number0048-9697
KeywordsAtmospheric deposition, Biogeochemistry, Forest soil, Pollution, Trace metals
Abstract

Understanding how metal concentrations in soil have responded to reductions of anthropogenic emissions is essential for predicting potential ecosystem impacts and evaluating the effectiveness of pollution control legislation. The objectives of this study were to present new data and synthesize existing literature to document decreases in Pb, Cu, and Zn concentrations in forest soils across the northeastern US. From measurements at 16 sites, we observed that forest floor Pb, Cu, and Zn concentrations have decreased between 1980 and 2011 at an overall mean rate of 1.3 ± 0.5% yr− 1. E-folding times, a concentration exponential decay rate (1/k), for Pb, Cu and Zn at the 16 sites were estimated to be 46 ± 7, 76 ± 20 and 81 ± 19 yr, respectively. Mineral soil concentrations were correlated with forest floor concentrations for Pb, but not for Cu and Zn, suggesting an accumulation in one pool does not strongly influence accumulation in the other. Forest floor Pb, Cu and Zn concentrations from our sites and 17 other studies conducted from 1970–2014 in remote forests across the northeastern US were compiled into pooled data sets. Significant decreasing trends existed for pooled forest floor Pb, Cu, and Zn concentrations. The pooled forest floor Pb e-folding time was determined to be 33 ± 9 yrs, but the explanatory power of pooled Cu and Zn regressions were inadequate for calculating e-folding times (r2 < 0.25). Pooled Pb, Cu, and Zn concentrations in forest floor were multiple-regressed with latitude, longitude, elevation, and year of sampling, cumulatively explaining 55, 38, and 28% of the variation across compiled studies. Our study suggests anthropogenic Pb in the forest floor will continue to decrease, but decreases in forest floor Cu and Zn concentrations may be masked by spatial heterogeneity or are at a new steady state.

URLhttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969714014612
Short TitleScience of The Total Environment