A New Perspective is Required to Understand the Role of Forest Ecosystems in Global Mercury Cycle: A Review

  • Ming Ma
  • Hongxia Du
  • Dingyong WangEmail author
Focused Review


Mercury (Hg) is one of the most toxic heavy metal pollutants, which can be easily transmitted and enriched through the food chain, posing severe threat to human beings. Forest ecosystems are one of the most active environments for biogeochemical cycles of Hg. It is essential to research on Hg cycling in the forest ecosystem, which contributes to a comprehensive understanding of global biogeochemical cycle of Hg. However, there is still a lack of consensus on whether the forest ecosystem is a “source” or “sink” of Hg in the global Hg cycle so far. Therefore, it is necessary to elucidate the current state of knowledge on Hg deposition, transformation and fate in the forest ecosystem, especially the existing puzzles or issues encountered by scientists worldwide. This review highlights the complexity and uncertainties of Hg cycling in forest ecosystems. It is proposed that a new perspective is required to further understand the role of forest ecosystems in global Hg cycle based on a sufficient understanding of Hg exchange fluxes at the interface of air–soil and air–plant, Hg deposition flux through litterfall, and accurate construction of Hg mass balance system.


Mercury Forest ecosystem Biogeochemical cycle Deposition Mass balance 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41573105 & 41603098), and the Natural Science Foundation of Chongqing (Grant No. cstc2016jcyjA0461).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resources and EnvironmentSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.Chongqing Key Laboratory of Bio-Resource for BioenergySouthwest UniversityChongqingChina

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