, Volume 170, Issue 1-4, pp 249-265
Date: 22 Feb 2006

Litterfall Mercury in Two Forested Watersheds at Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

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Abstract

Litterfall can be an important flux of mercury (Hg) to soils in forested landscapes, yet typically the only available data to evaluate Hg deposition is from precipitation Hg monitoring. Litterfall was collected at 39 sampling sites in two small research watersheds, in 2003 and 2004, and analyzed for total Hg. Four vegetation classes were designated in this study as hardwoods, softwoods, mixed and scrub. The mean litter Hg concentration in softwoods (58.8 ± 3.3 ng Hg g−1 was significantly greater than in mixed (41.7 ± 2.8 ng Hg g−1 and scrub (40.6 ± 2.7 ng Hg g−1, and significantly lower than in hardwoods (31.6 ± 2.6 ng Hg g−1. In contrast, the mean weighted litter Hg flux was not significantly different among vegetation classes. The lack of a significant difference in litter Hg flux between hardwoods and softwoods was attributable to the large autumnal hardwood litter Hg flux being balanced by the higher softwood litter Hg concentrations, along with the higher chronic litterfall flux throughout the winter and spring in softwoods. The estimated annual deposition of Hg via litterfall in Hadlock Brook watershed (10.1 μg m−2 and Cadillac Brook watershed (10.0 μg m−2 was greater than precipitation Hg deposition and similar to or greater than the magnitude of Hg deposition via throughfall. These results demonstrate that litterfall Hg flux to forested landscapes can be at least as important as precipitation Hg inputs.