New Approaches to Understand Mercury in Trees: Radial and Longitudinal Patterns of Mercury in Tree Rings and Genetic Control of Mercury in Maple Sap

Ruth D. Yanai, Yang Yang, Adam D. Wild, Kevin T. Smith, Charles T. Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Mercury (Hg) in the environment has been receiving considerable attention in recent years, but little is known about Hg accumulation in trees. We analyzed Hg in tree rings from four tree species at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire to determine whether Hg concentrations are more influenced by soil Hg concentrations, which have been stable or increasing due to the cumulative retention of historical atmospheric Hg deposition, or by atmospheric Hg deposition, which has declined in recent decades. Declining concentrations from the top to the bottom of the bole (p < 0.001) and from older to newer tree rings (p = 0.001) suggest that foliar uptake of Hg is more important than root uptake. Ten sugar maple clones planted in six blocks at the Heiberg Forest in New York State showed significant genetic control of sap Hg concentration (p = 0.02), which was not related to soil Hg concentration differences across blocks. Clones could differ in stomatal uptake, root uptake, or translocation of Hg. Better understanding of the source of Hg in wood is needed to forecast future changes in Hg cycling in forested ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number248
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Volume231
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Keywords

  • Acer saccharum Marsh
  • Maple sap
  • Mercury cycling
  • Mercury pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution

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