Calcium and magnesium in wood of northern hardwood forest species: Relations to site characteristics

M. A. Arthur, T. G. Siccama, R. D. Yanai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Improving estimates of the nutrient content of boles in forest ecosystems requires more information on how the chemistry of wood varies with characteristics of the tree and site. We examined Ca and Mg concentrations in wood at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. Species examined were the dominant tree species of the northern hardwood forest and the spruce-fir forest. The concentrations of Ca and Mg, respectively, in lightwood of these species, mass weighted by elevation, were 661 and 145 μg/g for sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.), 664 and 140 μg/g for American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.), 515 and 93 μg/g for yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis Britt.) 525 and 70 μg/g for red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.), 555 and 118 μg/g for balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.), and 393 and 101 μg/g for white birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.). There were significant patterns in Ca and Mg concentrations with wood age. The size of the tree was not an important source of variation. Beech showed significantly greater concentrations of both Ca (30%) and Mg (33%) in trees growing in moist sites relative to drier sites; sugar maple and yellow birch were less sensitive to mesotopography. In addition to species differences in lightwood chemistry, Ca and Mg concentrations in wood decreased with increasing elevation, coinciding with a pattern of decreasing Ca and Mg in the forest floor. Differences in Ca and Mg concentration in lightwood accounted for by elevation ranged from 12 to 23% for Ca and 16 to 30% for Mg for the three northern hardwood species. At the ecosystem scale, the magnitude of the elevational effect on lightwood chemistry, weighted by species, amounts to 18% of lightwood Ca in the watershed and 24% of lightwood Mg but only 2% of aboveground biomass Ca and 7% of aboveground Mg.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-346
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Forestry
  • Ecology


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