Author(s): Duquesnay A, Dupouey JL, Clement A, Ulrich E, Le Tacon F
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Abstract Foliar mineral concentration may provide a basis for monitoring the consequences of long-term environmental changes, such as eutrophication and acidification of soils, or increase in atmospheric CO(2) concentration. However, analytical drifts and inter-tree and year-to-year variations may confound environmental effects on long-term changes in foliar mineral concentration. We have characterized the relative effects of these potentially confounding factors on foliar carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium and manganese concentrations in 118 pure beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) stands, sampled in 1969-71 and 1996-97. Interannual fluctuations of these elements were quantified in a subset of six beech stands monitored for 5 years. Intercalibration between the methods used at each sampling period for nitrogen and phosphorus analyses showed significant, but low, relative differences (0.8 and 3.3\% for N and P, respectively). Based on inter-tree variability, elements could be arranged in four groups: C (constant), N and P (low variability), K and Ca (medium variability), Mn and Mg (high variability). Inter-tree coefficients of variation were 2, 6, 8, 15, 18, 22 and 27\%, respectively. Year-to-year fluctuations increased in the order N, P, Mg, K, Ca, and Mn coefficients of variation of 4, 4, 7, 9, 11, 15 and 29\%, respectively). Between the two sampling periods, foliar N concentration increased 12\%, whereas decreases were observed for P (-23\%), Mg (-38\%) and Ca (-16\%). Ratios of N/P, N/K and N/Mg increased by 42, 19 and 77\%, respectively. These changes were larger than the interannual variations for P, Mg, N/P, N/Mg and Mg/Ca. Decreasing concentrations of P and cations were particularly marked for trees growing on acidic soils, whereas the positive N trend did not depend on soil type. Both increasing atmospheric CO(2) concentrations and acidification of forest soils could contribute to decreasing P and cation concentrations in foliage. The increase in foliar N concentration with time suggests a nitrogen deposition effect. Whatever the causes of these changes, the large shift in element ratios indicates an accelerating imbalance between nitrogen and cation status.
This article was published in Tree Physiol
and referenced in Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation