3 years ago

Scarce evidence of ozone effect on recent health and productivity of alpine forests—a case study in Trentino, N. Italy

Luisa Frati, Mauro Confalonieri, Fabiana Cristofolini, Giacomo Gerosa, Elena Gottardini, Angelo Finco, Giovanni Bacaro, Antonella Cristofori, Marco Ferretti, Simona Maccherini, Giorgio Brunialti

Abstract

We investigated the significance of tropospheric ozone as a factor explaining recent tree health (in terms of defoliation) and productivity (in terms of basal area increment, BAI) in 15 ICP Forests level I and one level II plots in alpine forests in Trentino (N. Italy). Mean daily ozone summer concentrations varied between 30 and 72 parts per billion (ppb) leading to large exceedance of concentration-based critical levels set to protect forest trees. Phytoxic ozone dose (POD0) estimated at the level II plot over the period 1996–2009 was 31–61 mmol m−2 projected leaf area (PLA). The role of ozone was investigated taking into account other site and environmental factors. Simple linear regression, multiple linear regression (MLR, to study mean periodical defoliation and mean periodical BAI), and linear mixed models (LMM, to study annual defoliation data) were used. Our findings suggest that—regardless of the metric adopted—tropospheric ozone is not a significant factor in explaining recent status and trends of defoliation and BAI in the alpine region examined. Both defoliation and BAI are in turn driven by biotic/abiotic damage, nutritional status, DBH (assumed as a proxy for age), and site characteristics. These results contrast with available ozone-growth dose response relationships (DRRs) and other observational studies. This may be due to a variety of concurrent reasons: (i) DRRs developed for individual saplings under controlled condition are not necessarily valid for population of mature trees into real forest ecosystems; (ii) some observational studies may have suffered from biased design; and (iii) since alpine forests have been exposed to high ozone levels (and other oxidative stress) over decades, possible acclimation mechanisms cannot be excluded.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11356-018-1195-z

DOI: 10.1007/s11356-018-1195-z

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