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Mariana and Anne preparing tissue samples for analysis




We conducted a chemical analysis to measure selected nutrient and heavy metal concentrations in the wood, bark, branches, and twigs of the alien and invasive species, Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). The plant tissue samples were analyzed for calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), zinc (Zn), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), aluminium (Al), lead (Pb), and copper (Cu). We found insignificant amounts of lead and aluminum in the samples. Therefore, these elements were not included in the final analysis. The total amounts and densities of significant elements can be calculated using equations from allometry and biomass. We compared the concentration of calcium and magnesium in the Tree of Heaven wood to other tree species (Sugar Maple, White Ash, Yellow Birch, Fir, Spruce, White Birch, and Beech) from Hubbard Brook.


View of Lake Saltonstall

Why is it important to do chemical analysis of plant tissue?

We conducted chemical analysis to determine where a tree species sequesters chemicals in its above ground tissues (wood, bark, branches, and twigs) on a given site. We can compare this data across different age groups and diameter classes as well as different site gradients and species groups. How might this information be used? If, for instance, a plant sequestered lead, it could be used for bioremediation. Another plant might take up zinc, thus impeding the proliferation of zinc intolerant plants. The disproportionate use of a limiting nutrient by a single species may make survival of competiting vegetation difficult.



Digital Pictures by: Mary Nguyen


 Art Work by: Anne Osborn


 35mm Photos by: Frederick Osborn


Chemistry by: Frank Barrros, Anne Esctruth, Annie Osborn, Mariana Upmeyer


Chemistry Analysis & Webpage by: Mary Nguyen and Annie Osborn


Special Thanks to: Joel Tilly for help with the ICP

Ellen Denny for technical assistance with chemistry and data analysis

Methods of Ecosystem Analysis | Site | Tree Rings | Phytosociology | Allometry | Chemistry | Biomass | Summary

Methods of Ecosystem Analysis
Date Last Modified: 5/06/99
F&ES 579B, Spring 1999