Tree species effects on calcium cycling: The role of calcium uptake in deep soils

F.A. Dijkstra, M.M. Smits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


Soil acidity and calcium (Ca) availability in the surface soil differ substantially beneath sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) trees in a mixed forest in northwestern Connecticut. We determined the effect of pumping of Ca from deep soil (rooting zone below 20-cm mineral soil) to explain the higher available Ca content in the surface soil beneath sugar maple. We measured the atmospheric input of Ca with bulk deposition collectors and estimated Ca weathering and Ca mineralization in the surface soil (rooting zone above 20-cm mineral soil) from strontium isotope measurements and observed changes in exchangeable Ca in soils during field incubation. Calcium leaching at 20 cm was calculated by combining modeled hydrology with measured Ca soil solution concentrations at 20-cm depth. We measured root length distribution with depth beneath both tree species. Calcium leaching from the surface soil was much higher beneath sugar maple than hemlock and was positively related with the amount of Ca available in the surface soil. Calcium leaching from the surface soil beneath sugar maple was higher than the combined Ca input from atmospheric deposition and soil weathering. Without Ca uptake in the deep soil, surface soils are being depleted in Ca, especially beneath sugar maple. More organically bound Ca was mineralized beneath sugar maple than beneath hemlock. A relatively small part of this Ca release was leached below the surface soil, suggesting that, beneath both tree species, most of the Ca cycling is occurring in the surface soil. Sugar maple had more fine roots in the deep soil than hemlock and a greater potential to absorb Ca in the deep soil. With a simple model, we showed that a relatively small amount of Ca uptake in the deep soil beneath sugar maple is able to sustain high amounts of available Ca in the surface soil.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-398
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • weathering rates
  • temperate forests
  • nutrient-uptake
  • hubbard brook
  • loblolly-pine
  • sr isotopes
  • canopy tree
  • minerals
  • acid
  • oak


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