Mine soil properties influencing white pine (Pinus atrobus L.) growth in Southwest Virginia

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Thirty-six eight-year-old white pine (Pinus strobus L.) trees were used to identify minesoil, plant moisture, and foliar nutrient properties influencing white pine growth on reclaimed mine sites in southwest Virginia. PRESSAll (SAS Views, 1984) was used to determine relationships between soil properties and growth, soil properties and functional environmental factors (plant moisture stress and foliar nutrients), and between functional environmental factors and growth. PRediction Error Sum of Squares (PRESS), Mean Square Error (MSE), and Multiple Correlation Coefficient (R²) were used as criteria for variable selection and model validation. Rooting-volume index, the reciprocal of the electrical conductivity (EC), and extractable P in the soil-sized fraction of the minesoils were the best validated variables, predicting tree heights with the smallest amount of unit error (APRESS of 0.86 m) and accounting for the highest R² ( R² = 53.06%). The depth of the rooting volume had the greatest effect on 2 early growth (R² = 7 .91%), but variation in the last four years of height growth appeared to be a function primarily of rooting volume (R² = 51.40, p < 0.0001). Relationships between soil properties and 2 functional environmental factors varied widely (R² = 0.00-27 .50%). Plant moisture stress was most highly associated with the volume of the soil-sized fraction (R² = 13.6%), foliar phosphorus with soil pH (R² = 22.5%), and foliar cations with anaerobic-mineralizable nitrogen (R² = 0.00-27 .5%). The relationship between functional environmental factors and growth was uniformly weak (R² = 0.00-14.97%). Plant moisture stress was consistently related to overall height and its increment over the last four years, but foliar nutrients were erratically related to growth. No significant relationships between other functional environmental factors and growth were detected. Minesoil indices for individual trees ranged from 47-147 (base age 50). The depth of minesoil for site index 80 (average for Southern Appalachia) was 40 cm.