The distribution of metals in the forest floor of aged conifer stands at a plantation in Northern England

K. C. Jones, S. A. Watts, A. F. Harrison, J. Dighton

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Abstract

The distribution of the elements Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sr, V and Zn has been examined in the horizons of soils under aged Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.) stands at a plantation in Northern England. The stands are under first-generation cultivation and are up to 33 years old. Cadmium, Mn, Pb and Zn concentrations were consistently higher in the organic layers than in the underlying mineral soil. This contrasted with the situation for Sr and V. Cadmium, Pb and Zn all showed an increase in concentration in the L + F horizons with stand age and a corresponding increase in the difference between L + F and H + mineral horizon concentrations. Soil pH declined with increasing stand age. Cadmium, Cr, Pb and Zn were all present at higher concentrations in the F horizon than in any other, while Cu and Ni were relatively constant through all the horizons studied. For all nine elements, the H horizon was the largest store of the three organic layers. Calculated rates of accumulation of Cd, Pb and Zn in the L + F horizons gave good agreement with estimated regional atmospheric deposition rates. In comparison to atmospheric deposition, biological mobilisation and deposition of Cd, Pb and Zn make a relatively minor contribution to the surface soil metal burden. Cadmium appeared to be the most readily leached of these three metals from the forest floor, although some transfer of atmospherically-derived Pb to the H + mineral soil horizons was indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-47
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Volume51
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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