Waste products from the forest industry are to be spread in forests in Sweden to counteract nutrient depletion due to whole tree harvesting. This may increase the bioavailability of calcium (Ca) and heavy metals, such as cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) in forest soils. Heavy metals, like Cd, have already been enriched in forest soils in Sweden, due to deposition of air pollutions, and acidification of forest soils has increased the bioavailability of toxic metals for plant uptake. Changes in the bioavailability of metals may be reflected in altered accumulation of Ca and heavy metals in forest trees, changes in tree growth, including wood formation, and altered tree species composition. This thesis aims at examining: A) if inter- or intra- specific differences in sensitivity to Cd occur in the most common tree species of Sweden, and if so, to study if these can be explained by the uptake and distribution of Cd within the plant: B) how elevated levels of Ca, Cd, Cu and Zn affect the accumulation and attachment of metals in bark and wood, and growth of young Norway spruce (Picea abies): C) how waste products from the forest industry, such as wood ash, influence the contents of Ca, Cd, Cu and Zn in wood and bark of young Norway spruce.
Sensitivity to Cd, and its uptake and distribution, in seedlings of Picea abies, Pinus sylvestris and Betula pendula from three regions (southern, central and northern parts) of Sweden, treated with varying concentrations of Cd, were compared. Differences in root sensitivity to Cd both among and within woody species were found and the differences could to some extent be explained by differences in uptake and translocation of Cd. The root sensitivity assays revealed that birch was the least, and spruce the most, sensitive species, both to the external and to tissue levels of Cd. The central ecotype of the species tested tended to be most Cd resistant.
The radial distribution, accumulation and attachment of, and interactions between Ca and heavy metals in stems of two-year-old Norway spruce trees treated with elevated levels of Cd, Cu, Zn and/or Ca, were investigated. Further, the influence of these metals on growth, and on root metal content, was examined. Accumulation of the metals was enhanced in wood, bark and/or roots at elevated levels of the metal in question. Even at low levels of the metals, similar to after application of wood ash, an enhanced accumulation was apparent in wood and/or bark, except for Cd. The increased accumulation of Zn and Cu in the stem did not affect the growth. However, Cu decreased the accumulation of Ca in wood. Higher levels of Cu and Cd reduced the stem diameter and the toxic effect was associated with a reduced Ca content in wood. Copper and Cd also decreased the accumulation of Zn in the stem. On the other hand, elevated levels of Ca increased the stem diameter and reduced the accumulation of Cd, Cu, Zn and Mn in wood and/or bark. When metals interacted with each other the firmly bound fraction of the metal reduced was in almost all cases not affected. As an exception, Cd decreased the firmly bound fraction of Zn in the stem.
The influence of pellets of wood ash (ash) or a mixture of wood ash and green liquor dregs (ash+GLD), in the amount of 3000 kg ha-1, on the contents of Ca, Cd, Cu and Zn in wood and bark of young Norway spruce in the field was examined. The effect of the treatments on the metal content of bark and wood was larger after 3 years than after 6 years. Treatment with ash+GLD had less effect on the heavy metal content of bark and wood than treatment with ash alone. The ash treatment increased the Cu and Zn content in bark and wood, respectively, after 3 years, and decreased the Ca content of the wood after 6 years. The ash+GLD treatment increased the Ca content of the bark and decreased the Zn content of bark and wood after 3 years. Both treatments reduced, or tended to decrease, the Cd content in wood and bark at both times.
To conclude, small changes in the bioavailability of Ca, Cu, Cd and Zn in forest soils, such as after spreading pellets of wood ash or a mixture of wood ash and green liquor dregs from the forest industry, will be reflected in an altered accumulation of metals in wood and bark of Norway spruce. It will not only be reflected in changed accumulation of those metals in which bioavailability in the soil has been enhanced, but also of other metals, probably partly due to interactions between metals. When metals interact the exchangeable bound fraction of the metal reduced is suggested to be the main fraction affected. The small alterations in accumulation of metals should not affect the growth of Norway spruce, especially since the changes in accumulation of metals are low, and further since these decrease over time. However, as an exception, one positive and maybe persistent effect of the waste products is that these may decrease the accumulation of Cd in Norway spruce, which partly may be explained by competition with Ca for uptake, translocation and binding. A decreased accumulation of Cd in Norway spruce will probably affect the trees positively, since Norway spruce is one of the most sensitive species to Cd of the forest trees in Sweden. Thus, spreading of waste products from the forest industry may be a solution to decrease the accumulation of Cd in Norway spruce. In a longer perspective, this will decrease the risk of Cd altering the tree species composition of the forest ecosystem. An elevated bioavailability of Ca in forest soils will, in addition to Cd, probably also decrease the accumulation of other less competitive heavy metals, like Zn and Mn, in the stem.
Stockholm: Botaniska institutionen , 2004. , 52 p.
2004-04-16, föreläsningssalen, Botanicum, Lilla Frescativägen 5, Stockholm, 10:00