Deterioration of Norway Spruce Vitality despite a Sharp Decline in Acid Deposition: A Long-Term Integrated Perspective. Jonard, M., Legout, A., Nicolas, M., Dambrine, E., Nys, C., Ulrich, E., Perre, R., & Ponette, Q. 18(2):711–725.
Deterioration of Norway Spruce Vitality despite a Sharp Decline in Acid Deposition: A Long-Term Integrated Perspective [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
Since the late 1970s, several long-term ecological studies were conducted to better understand the biogeochemical functioning of Norway spruce stands in the Ardennes as these nutrient-poor ecosystems were subject to high levels of acid deposition and exhibited symptoms of tree health decline. Between 1978 and 2009, acid deposition declined sharply, especially sulfur and to a lesser extent nitrogen deposition. The aim of this study was (i) to determine if the Norway spruce stands recovered after the reduction of acid deposition and (ii) to explain why such a recovery occurred or not. Therefore, we collected data from different projects carried out in the Ardennes to characterize the long-term temporal trends in soil solution chemistry, foliar nutrition, and crown condition. In parallel, a model describing the nutrient cycling in forests (NuCM) was calibrated and used to check the consistency of the observed temporal trends and to explain them. The soil solution concentration of most of the elements decreased between 1978 and 2002, which was ascribed to a decrease in atmospheric deposition. For potassium, a decline in the exchangeable pool was also showed based on the simulation carried out with NuCM. As nitrogen (N) deposition remained at an elevated level, Norway spruce stands were progressively saturated in N and mineral nutrition became more and more unbalanced. Except the foliar N and Al concentration that remained constant and increased respectively, the foliar concentration of all other nutrients decreased between 1993 and 2009, which can be explained by the decrease in ion concentration in solution. These nutritional disorders weakened trees and were probably exacerbated during the 2003 summer drought, after which symptoms of vitality loss progressively appeared. In these N-saturated ecosystems, the N cycle was disrupted by this health decline, which increased NO3- leaching reinforcing soil acidification and risk of aluminum (Al) toxicity. [:Excerpt: Conclusions] In the Ardennes, Norway spruce was planted on soils impoverished by ancestral practices because this species is frugal and fast growing. After the Second World War, acid deposition enhanced the leaching of base cations, which reduced again the pool of soil exchangeable Ca, Mg, and K. Progressively, mineral nutrition of trees became unbalanced with excess supply of N and insufficient supply of other nutrients such as Ca and Mg. These poor conditions of mineral nutrition predisposed trees to vitality losses (defoliation and discoloration) which were observed during the 1980s. The sharp decline in acid deposition since the beginning of the 1980s and the parallel decrease in base cation deposition (mainly Ca) reduced substantially nutrient concentration in the soil solution. For K, a decrease in the exchangeable pool was also showed based on the simulation carried out with NuCM. As nitrogen (N) deposition remained at an elevated level, Norway spruce stands were progressively saturated in N and mineral nutrition became more and more unbalanced. Except the foliar N and Al concentration that, respectively, remained stable and increased, the foliar concentration of all other nutrients decreased between 1993 and 2009, which can be explained by the decrease in dissolved ion concentration. These nutritional disorders weakened trees and were probably exacerbated during the 2003 summer drought, after which symptoms of vitality loss progressively appeared. In these N-saturated ecosystems, the N Cycle was probably disrupted by this health decline, which increased NO3- leaching reinforcing soil acidification and risk of Al toxicity and creating a vicious circle. This study indicates that we can expect a new phase of forest decline in the Ardennes. Although the previous crisis was mainly due to acid deposition, the new forest decline would have somewhat different causes. The unbalanced reduction in atmospheric deposition reinforces the eutrophication of forest ecosystems and the disorders in tree mineral nutrition, which predisposes trees to vitality loss, especially after drought periods that could be more frequent in the future. In this context, the increasing demand for wood energy could further weakens the nutritional balance of these ecosystems if it leads to additional nutrient removal.
@article{jonardDeteriorationNorwaySpruce2012,
  title = {Deterioration of {{Norway}} Spruce Vitality despite a Sharp Decline in Acid Deposition: A Long-Term Integrated Perspective},
  author = {Jonard, Mathieu and Legout, Arnaud and Nicolas, Manuel and Dambrine, Etienne and Nys, Claude and Ulrich, Erwin and Perre, Raphaele and Ponette, Quentin},
  date = {2012-02},
  journaltitle = {Global Change Biology},
  volume = {18},
  pages = {711--725},
  issn = {1354-1013},
  doi = {10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02550.x},
  url = {https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02550.x},
  abstract = {Since the late 1970s, several long-term ecological studies were conducted to better understand the biogeochemical functioning of Norway spruce stands in the Ardennes as these nutrient-poor ecosystems were subject to high levels of acid deposition and exhibited symptoms of tree health decline. Between 1978 and 2009, acid deposition declined sharply, especially sulfur and to a lesser extent nitrogen deposition. The aim of this study was (i) to determine if the Norway spruce stands recovered after the reduction of acid deposition and (ii) to explain why such a recovery occurred or not. Therefore, we collected data from different projects carried out in the Ardennes to characterize the long-term temporal trends in soil solution chemistry, foliar nutrition, and crown condition. In parallel, a model describing the nutrient cycling in forests (NuCM) was calibrated and used to check the consistency of the observed temporal trends and to explain them. The soil solution concentration of most of the elements decreased between 1978 and 2002, which was ascribed to a decrease in atmospheric deposition. For potassium, a decline in the exchangeable pool was also showed based on the simulation carried out with NuCM. As nitrogen (N) deposition remained at an elevated level, Norway spruce stands were progressively saturated in N and mineral nutrition became more and more unbalanced. Except the foliar N and Al concentration that remained constant and increased respectively, the foliar concentration of all other nutrients decreased between 1993 and 2009, which can be explained by the decrease in ion concentration in solution. These nutritional disorders weakened trees and were probably exacerbated during the 2003 summer drought, after which symptoms of vitality loss progressively appeared. In these N-saturated ecosystems, the N cycle was disrupted by this health decline, which increased NO3- leaching reinforcing soil acidification and risk of aluminum (Al) toxicity.

[:Excerpt: Conclusions] In the Ardennes, Norway spruce was planted on soils impoverished by ancestral practices because this species is frugal and fast growing. After the Second World War, acid deposition enhanced the leaching of base cations, which reduced again the pool of soil exchangeable Ca, Mg, and K. Progressively, mineral nutrition of trees became unbalanced with excess supply of N and insufficient supply of other nutrients such as Ca and Mg. These poor conditions of mineral nutrition predisposed trees to vitality losses (defoliation and discoloration) which were observed during the 1980s.

The sharp decline in acid deposition since the beginning of the 1980s and the parallel decrease in base cation deposition (mainly Ca) reduced substantially nutrient concentration in the soil solution. For K, a decrease in the exchangeable pool was also showed based on the simulation carried out with NuCM. As nitrogen (N) deposition remained at an elevated level, Norway spruce stands were progressively saturated in N and mineral nutrition became more and more unbalanced. Except the foliar N and Al concentration that, respectively, remained stable and increased, the foliar concentration of all other nutrients decreased between 1993 and 2009, which can be explained by the decrease in dissolved ion concentration. These nutritional disorders weakened trees and were probably exacerbated during the 2003 summer drought, after which symptoms of vitality loss progressively appeared. In these N-saturated ecosystems, the N Cycle was probably disrupted by this health decline, which increased NO3- leaching reinforcing soil acidification and risk of Al toxicity and creating a vicious circle.

This study indicates that we can expect a new phase of forest decline in the Ardennes. Although the previous crisis was mainly due to acid deposition, the new forest decline would have somewhat different causes. The unbalanced reduction in atmospheric deposition reinforces the eutrophication of forest ecosystems and the disorders in tree mineral nutrition, which predisposes trees to vitality loss, especially after drought periods that could be more frequent in the future. In this context, the increasing demand for wood energy could further weakens the nutritional balance of these ecosystems if it leads to additional nutrient removal.},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-13561684,acid-deposition,droughts,forest-resources,nitrogen,picea-abies,plant-health,soil-resources,species-decline,spruce-decline,sulphur},
  number = {2}
}
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