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    Tropospheric ozone (O3) is an important stressor in natural ecosystems, with well documented impacts on soils, biota and ecological processes. The effects of O3 on individual plants and processes scale up through the ecosystem through effects on carbon, nutrient and hydrologic dynamics. Ozone effects on individual species and their associated microflora and fauna cascade through the ecosystem to the landscape level. Systematic injury surveys demonstrate that foliar injury occurs on sensitive species throughout the globe. However, deleterious impacts on plant carbon, water and nutrient balance can also occur without visible injury. Because sensitivity to O3 may follow coarse physiognomic plant classes (in general, herbaceous crops are more sensitive than deciduous woody plants, grasses and conifers), the task still remains to use stomatal O3 uptake to assess class and species’ sensitivity. Investigations of the radial growth of mature trees, in combination with data from many controlled studies with seedlings, suggest that ambient O3 reduces growth of mature trees in some locations. Models based on tree physiology and forest stand dynamics suggest that modest effects of O3 on growth may accumulate over time, other stresses (prolonged drought, excess nitrogen deposition) may exacerbate the direct effects of O3 on tree growth, and competitive interactions among species may be altered. Ozone exposure over decades may be altering the species composition of forests currently, and as fossil fuel combustion products generate more O3 than deteriorates in the atmosphere, into the future as well.

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    Grulke, Nancy E.; Heath, R. L. 2019. Ozone effects on plants in natural ecosystems. Plant Biology. 28(S1): 765-791.


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    Case studies, conifers, ecological setting, genetics, hardwoods, ozone exposure.

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