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Bioaccumulation of trace metals in plant tissues can present a health risk to wildlife, and potentially to humans. The Passamaquoddy Tribe in Maine was concerned about health risks of cadmium (Cd) because of a health advisory for moose liver and kidney consumption due to high Cd levels. In addition to Cd, this study evaluated concentrations of aluminum (Al), calcium (Ca), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn), nickel (Ni), phosphorus (P), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn) in four common terrestrial moose-browse species, associated forest soils, and two species of aquatic vegetation on Passamaquoddy tribal land in eastern Maine. Elements were organized into three groups (A, B, and C) based on the patterns of concentration differences in vegetation among ecosystem types. Elements in group A included the nutrients Ca, K, Mg, and P and showed a pattern of significantly higher concentrations in hardwood and aquatic vegetation compared to softwoods. Group B elements included the four metals, Cd, Cu, Mn, and Zn, and exhibited a pattern of higher concentrations in hardwoods compared to softwoods and aquatic vegetation. Group C elements did not fit the patterns of group A or group B and included the remaining four elements Al, Fe, Ni, and Pb. Total O horizon soil concentration means for all elements, except Ni and Pb, were significantly higher in hardwood compared to softwood forest types. This study provides uncommon and important baseline vegetation and soil trace metal concentrations from a remote region in Maine of interest to environmental professionals.

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Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station




trace elements, bioaccumulation, forest plants, forest soils


Environmental Chemistry | Environmental Monitoring | Forest Sciences | Soil Science

TB195: Element Concentrations in Maine Forest Vegetation and Soils



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