The distribution of trace metals in remote alpine region is an effective way to understand the impacts of regional human activity and vegetation on the alpine ecosystem. In this study, the concentrations of cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn) in the soils of Gongga Mountain, Eastern Tibetan Plateau, were investigated to reveal their seasonal and spatial distribution and enrichment state, and to decipher the effects of atmospheric deposition and vegetation on their distributions among five vegetation zones. The results showed that the concentrations of Cd, Pb, and Zn were higher in the O horizon than in other horizons despite the seasonal changes, whereas Cu was enriched in the C horizon. The enrichment states of the metals studied in the soils decreased in the order of Cd > Pb > Zn > Cu. Cd and Pb were mainly sourced from atmospheric deposition; Zn was from both atmospheric deposition and parent materials, whereas Cu was mainly from parent materials. Seasonally, the trace metals were generally higher in May and December but lower in September, implying the impact of vegetation on the distribution of trace metals under the plant uptake and the litter decomposition. Spatially, the higher enrichment of Cu, Pb, and Zn in the soils existed in the mixed broadleaf-coniferous forests and coniferous forests (approximately 3000 m above sea level). The results suggested that atmospheric deposition and biological processes are main factors controlling the seasonal and spatial distribution of trace metals in the soils of the remote alpine ecosystem.
Journal of Mountain Science – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 4, 2017
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