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The Astronomical Journal


The American Astronomical Society


The dispersion in lithium abundance at fixed effective temperature in young cool stars like the Pleiades has proved a difficult challenge for stellar evolution theory. We propose that Li abundances relative to a mean temperature trend, rather than the absolute abundances, should be used to analyze the spread in abundance. We present evidence that the dispersion in Li equivalent widths at fixed color in cool single Pleiades stars is at least partially caused by stellar atmosphere effects (most likely departures from ionization predictions of model photospheres) rather than being completely explained by genuine abundance differences. We find that effective temperature estimates from different colors yield systematically different values for active stars. There is also a strong correlation between stellar activity and Li excess, but not a one-to-one mapping between unprojected stellar rotation (from photometric periods) and Li excess. Thus, it is unlikely that rotation is the main cause for the dispersion in the Li abundances. Finally, there is a strong correlation between detrended Li excess and potassium excess but not calcium-- perhaps supporting incomplete radiative transfer calculations (and overionization effects in particular) as an important source of the Li scatter. Other mechanisms, such as very small metallicity variations and magnetic fields, which influence PMS Li burning may also play a role. Finally, we find no statistical evidence for a decrease in dispersion in the coolest Pleiades stars, contrary to some previous work.