Articles | Volume 17, issue 7
Research article
09 Jul 2013
Research article |  | 09 Jul 2013

Acid-base characteristics of the Grass Pond watershed in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, USA: interactions among soil, vegetation and surface waters

K. M. McEathron, M. J. Mitchell, and L. Zhang

Abstract. Grass Pond watershed is located within the southwestern Adirondack Mountain region of New York State, USA. This region receives some of the highest rates of acidic deposition in North America and is particularly sensitive to acidic inputs due to many of its soils having shallow depths and being generally base poor. Differences in soil chemistry and tree species between seven subwatersheds were examined in relation to acid-base characteristics of the seven major streams that drain into Grass Pond. Mineral soil pH, stream water BCS (base-cation surplus) and pH exhibited a positive correlation with sugar maple basal area (p = 0.055; 0.48 and 0.39, respectively). Black cherry basal area was inversely correlated with stream water BCS, ANC (acid neutralizing capacity)c and NO3- (p = 0.23; 0.24 and 0.20, respectively). Sugar maple basal areas were positively associated with watershed characteristics associated with the neutralization of atmospheric acidic inputs while in contrast, black cherry basal areas showed opposite relationships to these same watershed characteristics. Canonical correspondence analysis indicated that black cherry had a distinctive relationship with forest floor chemistry apart from the other tree species, specifically a strong positive association with forest floor NH4, while sugar maple had a distinctive relationship with stream chemistry variables, specifically a strong positive association with stream water ANCc, BCS and pH. Our results provide evidence that sugar maple is acid-intolerant or calciphilic tree species and also demonstrate that black cherry is likely an acid-tolerant tree species.