Spatial and temporal differences in the crown condition of sugar maple ( Acer saccharum Marsh) in Ontario remain largely unexplained. In this study, the potential role of metals in sugar maple dieback was explored by measuring metal concentrations in foliage and forest floor (LFH) at 35 forest stands in south-central Ontario that exhibit varying levels of decline and span a climatic, soil acidity and acid deposition gradient. Foliar and forest floor metal concentrations varied among sites by between two and ten-fold, with acidic sites exhibiting the highest concentrations of many metals in the forest floor and foliage. Sites with moderate decline symptoms (decline index (DI) > 10, averaged between 1986 and 2004) had significantly greater Cd, Zn, Cu, Pb and Mn concentrations and lower Ca concentrations in the forest floor compared with healthy sites (DI < 10). Foliar concentrations of Cd, Sr and Mn were also significantly greater and Ca was significantly lower in sites with moderate decline symptoms compared with healthy sites. However the highest metal concentrations in foliage and the forest floor found in this study are lower than critical values reported in the literature. The notable exception is Mn where values at acidic sites may be high enough to negatively impact sugar maple.
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