U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service -- National Agroforestry Center


Date of this Version



Environ Monit Assess (2010) 171:129–147 DOI 10.1007/s10661-010-1523-3


At the Bear Brook Watershed in Maine (BBWM), the forest tree composition was characterized and the effects of the chronic ammonium sulfate ((NH4)2SO4) treatment on basal area growth, foliar chemistry, and gas exchange were investigated on forest species. The BBWM is a paired watershed forest ecosystem study with one watershed, West Bear (WB), treated since 1989 with 26.6 kg N ha−1 year−1 and 30 kg S ha−1 year−1 applied bimonthly as (NH4)2SO4, while the other watershed, East Bear (EB), serves as a reference. Tree species richness, density, and mortality were found to be similar between watersheds. Basal area increment was estimated from red spruce and sugar maple, showing that, for the first 7 years of treatment, it was significantly higher for sugar maple growing in WB compared to EB, but no differences were observed for red spruce between watersheds. However, the initial higher sugar maple basal area growth in WB subsequently decreased after 8 years of treatment. Foliar chemical analysis performed in trees, saplings, and ground flora showed higher N concentrations in the treated WB compared to the reference EB. But, foliar cation concentrations, especially Ca and Mg, were significantly lower for most of the species growing inWBcompared with those growing in EB. For sugar maple, foliar N was higher on WB, but there were no differences in foliar Ca and Mg concentrations between treated and reference watersheds. In addition, only sugar maple trees in the treated WB showed significantly higher photosynthetic rates compared to reference EB trees.