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Appalachian Trail Study Fills in the Gaps on Spatial Patterns of Acidic Deposition Effects

Photo of Alan Ellsworth (left), U.S. Park Service and Jason Siemion (right), U.S. Geological Survey taking soil samples at one of the twelve intensive sites in set up along the Appalachian Trail corridor. Kenneth Dudzik, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Alan Ellsworth (left), U.S. Park Service and Jason Siemion (right), U.S. Geological Survey taking soil samples at one of the twelve intensive sites in set up along the Appalachian Trail corridor. Kenneth Dudzik, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : A multiagency and multidisciplinary investigation along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail provided an extensive dataset that filled the gaps in scientists knowledge regarding the spatial patterns of acidic deposition effects on soil, stream water, plant communities, and tree biology.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Minocha, RakeshLong, Stephanie
Dudzik, Kenneth 
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1131

Summary

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail spans about 2,180 miles from northern Georgia to central Maine. It includes large latitudinal and elevational gradients in climate, soil condition, and forest community types. While some areas of the trail are well-buffered from acid rain effects, most have been affected by atmospheric nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) deposition. This multidisciplinary and multiagency study, funded by the National Park Service, examined the resource sensitivity to this deposition along an approximately 25-mile-wide band running the entire Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The response of vegetation (species composition and sapwood metabolism), water chemistry, and wildlife varies depending on the physio-chemical state of local soils. Analysis of sapwood indicates that the healthiest sugar maple, red spruce, and oak trees are growing on the sites with relatively high availability of soil calcium (Ca) and high N deposition. This investigation is the first of its kind to create a database collected from sites along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail corridor to help fill geographic gaps identified in earlier studies. The investigation also assesses spatial patterns in acidic deposition, stream water quality, soils conditions, and plant composition and metabolism.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • U.S. Geological Survey

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