Decline of Red Spruce in High-Elevation Forests of New York and New England

  • A. H. Johnson
  • T. G. Siccama
  • W. L. Silver
  • J. J. Battles
Part of the Advances in Environmental Science book series (ENVIRON.SCIENCE, volume 1)


A high rate of red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) mortality has been noted in the Adirondack, Green, and White Mountains of the northeastern United States over the past two decades. Because spruce mortality is greatest at high elevations where the forest is frequently immersed in cloudwater, and because cloudwater contains high levels of acids and other dissolved chemicals, several hypotheses regarding the role of acid deposition in the spruce decline have been formulated. Although several possibilities remain to be tested, at present no clear mechanistic evidence links acid deposition to spruce decline. Several natural stress factors are associated with the timing and severity of spruce mortality and will likely be judged causal agents. Winter damage (desiccation and/or freezing injury) appears to play a major role as an initiating and synchronizing influence. Experiments carried out with red spruce seedlings showed that realistic levels of ozone had an unfavorable effect on winter hardiness and suggested a way in which air pollution might play a role in the decline.


Acid Deposition Organic Horizon Acid Precipitation Winter Hardiness Freezing Injury 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. H. Johnson
    • 1
  • T. G. Siccama
    • 2
  • W. L. Silver
    • 2
  • J. J. Battles
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Yale School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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