Foliar mercury content from tropical trees and its correlation with physiological parameters in situ.
The terrestrial biogeochemical cycle of mercury has been widely studied because, among other causes, it presents a global distribution and harmful biotic interactions. Forested ecosystems shows great concentrations from Hg and Litterfall is known as the major contributor to the fluxes at the soil/air interface, through the superficial adsorption on the leaves and by the gas exchange of the stomatal pores. The understanding of which processes control the stage of Hg cycle in these ecosystems is still not totally clear. The influences of physiological and morphological parameters were tested against the Hg concentrations in the leaves of 14 endemic species of an evergreen tropical forest in south-eastern Brazil, and an exotic species from Platanus genus. Pathways were studied through leaf areas and growing tree parameters, where maximum rate of net photosynthesis (Pnmax), transpiration rate (E), stomatal conductance (Gs) were examined. The results obtained in situ indicated a positive correlation between Pnmax and the Hg concentration; Cedrela fissilis and Croton floribundus were the most sensitive species to the accumulation of Hg and the most photosynthetically active in this study. The primary productivity from Tropical forest should be a proxy of Hg deposition from atmosphere to soil, retained there while forests stand up, representing an environmental service of sequestration of this global pollutant. Therefore, forests and trees with great photosynthetic potential should be considered in predictions, budgets and non-geological soil content regarding the global Hg cycle.