The influence of acid mists on growth, dry matter partitioning, nutrient concentrations and mycorrhizal fruiting bodies in red spruce seedlings



Two-year-old spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) seedlings were exposed to acid mists containing equimolar ammonium sulphate and nitric acid giving treatments of pH 2.5, 3.0 and 5.0. Acid mist treatments were applied twice weekly from late July until early October, 1987, when the plants were harvested.

There were no significant differences in biomass accumulation or in height growth between treatments, but marked differences in root morphology were found. Significantly larger amounts of coarse roots were produced in the pH 5.0 acid mist treatment and plants in the pH 3.0 treatment produced significantly greater amounts of fine roots. Plants receiving acid mists of pH 3.0 or less had a greater frequency of fine root branches along their coarse roots. Production of mycorrhizal fruiting bodies of Thelephora terrestris Ehrenb.: Fr. was significantly greater (P < 0.001) at pH 5.0 than in the other treatments.

Plants in the pH 2.5 and 3.0 treatments contained larger concentrations of N, 1.54 and 1.12% and S, 0.52 and 0.28% respectively, than those receiving acid mist at pH 5.0, i.e. 1.00 and 0.21% respectively. However, the between treatment differences of tissue nutrient concentrations were small relative to the differences in inputs between treatments. Foliar S exceeded concentrations recommended for nursery stock by 50 and 150% at pH 3.0 and 2.5 respectively.