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