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Forest Soils on Acid

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Forest Soils on Acid

Forest ecosystems are important both ecologically and economically. It is arguable that the most fundamental dynamic of the forest ecosystem is the forest soil. The acidity of forest soils can alter the chemistry, biota, and hydraulics of the soil, and thus, alter the soil formation characteristics and the soil composition. It follows that the acidification of forest soils demands a great deal of research and attention.

Forest soils are commonly found to have pH readings of 4-6, even in areas of moderate to low acid deposition (Binkley et al, p. 4). In fact, an abundance of forest vegetation thrives on and stabilizes most forest soils at relatively low pH levels. It seems as though forest ecosystems generally thrive upon strongly acid soils. Though forest soils naturally are acidic, problems can occur when the acidity levels are raised artificially through processes such as acid rain. This paper will investigate the effects of higher than normal acidity and acid deposition in forest soils to gain a greater understanding of current and potential problems to forest soils and ecosystems.

It is important to remember when discussing the implications of high acid in forest soils that there are several general factors that will alter acidic effects on soil chemistry, hydrology, biota, and weathering. These factors include soil type, soil sensitivity, and the quantity of precipitation. Texture, structure, grain size, and consistence are all crucial to defining the soil type or series and also to the amount of time soil is exposed to acid deposition. In a particular study on humus degradation based on simulated "acid rains" conducted by Greszta et al. (1991) revealed the extent to which soil type influenced ...

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Mulder, J., J.J. M. van Grinsven, and N. van Breemen. 1987. Impacts of acid atmospheric deposition on woodland soils in the Netherlands: III. aluminum chemistry. Soil Science Society of America Journal 51: pp. 1640-1646.

Rampazzo, N., and W.E.H. Blum. 1992. Changes in chemistry and minerology of forest soils by acid rain. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 61: pp. 209-220.

Sharpe, W.E., B.R. Swistock, and D.R. Dewalle. 1992. A greenhouse study of northern red oak seedling growth on two forest soils at different stages of acidification. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 66: pp. 121-133.

Singer, M.J., and D.N. Munns. 1996. Soils: An Introduction. Prentice-Hall, Inc. New Jersey.

Tamm, C.O., and L. Hallbacken. 1986. Changes in soil pH over a 50-year period under different forest canopies in SW Sweden. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 31: pp. 337 341.

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