Potential of decaying wood to restore rootavailable base cations in depleted forest soils

Walter C. Shortle, Kevin T. Smith, Jody Jellison, Jonathan S. Schilling

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17 Scopus citations


The depletion of root-available Ca in northern forest soils exposed to decades of increased acid deposition adversely affects forest health and productivity. Laboratory studies indicated the potential of wood-decay fungi to restore lost Ca. This study presents changes in concentration of Ca, Mg, and K in sapwood of red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.), red maple (Acer rubrum L.), eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carrière), and paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marshall) during the decay process at two experimental forests for 12 years and to compare concentrations of exchangeable Ca, Mg, and Al in decayed wood residues at 10 and 12 years with those in the forest floor. Significant loss of mass indicated by decreasing wood density occurred after 2-8 years in conifers and after only 2 years in hardwoods. A significant gain in wood K was observed at 2 years followed by a significant loss at 8 years. A negligible gain in Ca concentration occurred at 2 years and a substantial gain at 8 years. Observed changes in Mg concentration were variable. No significant difference in exchangeable Ca concentration was observed between decayed wood residue of spruce and maple and the forest floor. However, decayed wood residue had a much lower Al concentration and molar Al/Ca ratio, a condition characteristic of sites with high root-available Ca.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1015-1024
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


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