This article focusses on the bio-monitoring of total Hg (THg), sulfur (TS) and carbon (TC) concentrations and pool sizes in forest vegetation and soil layers within the context of a maritime-to-inland transect study in southwestern New Brunswick. This transect stretches from the Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy to the mainland coast (Little Lepreau to New River Beach) and 100 km northward to Fredericton. Along the Bay, frequent summer fogs are thought to have led to increased THg concentrations in forest vegetation and soils such that island THg > coast THg > inland THg concentrations. Transect sampling was done in two phases: (i) a general vegetation and soil survey, and (ii) focusing on specific soil layers (forest floor, top portion of the mineral soils), and select moss and mushrooms species. By way of multiple regression, it was found that soil, moss and mushroom THg and TS were strongly related to one another, with THg decreasing from the island to the inland locations. The accumulated Hg pool within the mineral soil, however, far exceeded (i) the estimated THg pools of the forest biomass (trees, moss and mushrooms) and the forest floor, and (ii) the literature-reported and case-study inferred net input/output rates for annual atmospheric Hg deposition and sequestration, Hg volatilization, and Hg leaching. Partitioning the total soil Hg pool into geogenically and atmospherically derived portions suggested that mineral soils in temperate to boreal forest regions have accumulated and retained atmospherically derived Hg over thousand years and more. These results are summarized in terms of further guiding forest THg monitoring and modelling efforts in terms of specific vegetation and soil sampling targets.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.