Elevated O3 levels can strongly impair the health and vitality of forest ecosystems. Free-air exposure systems reveal that forest tree and stand growth can be reduced strongly under chronic O3 stress. Detailed knowledge of the effect of O3 exposure on photosynthesis, carbon sequestration, allometry and growth during chronic stress is available. However, knowledge of growth response after O3 reduction is scarce. Here, we analyse the growth of mature Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) in the free-air O3 fumigation experiment at Kranzberg Forest. We compare tree growth over a 9-year period (2008–2016) after exposure to O3 (2000–2007). During 2 × O3 exposure, the annual basal area growth of Norway spruce and European beech decreased by 24 and 32%, respectively. After cessation of 2 × O3 exposure, the annual basal area growth of Norway spruce and European beech not only recovered but exceeded the growth of the trees in the control condition by 14 and 24%, respectively. The growth resilience and resistance of trees previously exposed to 2 × O3 towards drought stress and late frost was hardly lower than that of the trees in the control condition. The capacity for growth recovery even after long-term chronic O3 stress emphasizes the strong beneficial effect of air pollution control on the health of forest ecosystems and on the global land carbon sink.
European Journal of Forest Research – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 20, 2018
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