Photosynthetic and Growth Response of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) Mature Trees and Seedlings to Calcium, Magnesium, and Nitrogen Additions in the Catskill Mountains, NY, USA
Behling, Shawna J.
Lawrence, Greg B.
Sullivan, Joseph H.
Momen B, Behling SJ, Lawrence GB, Sullivan JH (2015) Photosynthetic and Growth Response of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) Mature Trees and Seedlings to Calcium, Magnesium, and Nitrogen Additions in the Catskill Mountains, NY, USA. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0136148. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0136148
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Decline of sugar maple in North American forests has been attributed to changes in soil calcium (Ca) and nitrogen (N) by acidic precipitation. Although N is an essential and usually a limiting factor in forests, atmospheric N deposition may cause N-saturation leading to loss of soil Ca. Such changes can affect carbon gain and growth of sugar maple trees and seedlings. We applied a 2^2 factorial arrangement of N and dolomitic limestone containing Ca and Magnesium (Mg) to 12 forest plots in the Catskill Mountain region of NY, USA. To quantify the short-term effects, we measured photosynthetic-light responses of sugar maple mature trees and seedlings two or three times during two summers. We estimated maximum net photosynthesis (An-max) and its related light intensity (PAR at An-max), apparent quantum efficiency (Aqe), and light compensation point (LCP). To quantify the long-term effects, we measured basal area of living mature trees before and 4 and 8 years after treatment applications. Soil and foliar chemistry variables were also measured. Dolomitic limestone increased Ca, Mg, and pH in the soil Oe horizon. Mg was increased in the B horizon when comparing the plots receiving N with those receiving CaMg. In mature trees, foliar Ca and Mg concentrations were higher in the CaMg and N+CaMg plots than in the reference or N plots; foliar Ca concentration was higher in the N+CaMg plots compared with the CaMg plots, foliar Mg was higher in the CaMg plots than the N+CaMg plots; An-max was maximized due to N+CaMg treatment; Aqe decreased by N addition; and PAR at An-max increased by N or CaMg treatments alone, but the increase was maximized by their combination. No treatment effect was detected on basal areas of living mature trees four or eight years after treatment applications. In seedlings, An-max was increased by N+CaMg addition. The reference plots had an open herbaceous layer, but the plots receiving N had a dense monoculture of common woodfern in the forest floor, which can impede seedling survival.