Industrial emissions in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR), Alberta, Canada, have caused concerns about the effect of oil sands operations on the surrounding terrestrial environments, including jack pine (Pinus banksiana
Lamb.) stands. We collected jack pine needles from 19 sites in the AOSR (13–128 km from main operations) for foliar chemical analyses to investigate the environmental impact on jack pine. Pine needles from three age classes, the current annual growth (CAG, 2011), one year and two year old pine needles, were collected. Samples were analyzed for total carbon (TC), nitrogen (TN), and sulfur (TS), inorganic S (SO4
-S), base cations (Ca, Mg, Na), and other elements (B, Cu, Fe, Mn, P, Zn); CAG needles were also analyzed for their nitrogen and carbon isotopic compositions. Only TN, TS, Ca, B, Zn, and Fe contents showed weak but significant increases with proximity to the major oil sands operations. C and N isotopic compositions showed no trend with distance or TC and TN contents. Total S contents in CAG of pine foliage increased significantly with proximity to the main industrial operation while foliar inorganic S to organic S ratios (SO4
) ranged consistently between 0.13 and 0.32, indicating low to moderately high S loading. Hence, this study suggests some evidence of uptake of S emissions in close proximity to anthropogenic sources, although the reported values have not reached a level of environmental concern.
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