Are seedlings reasonable surrogates for trees? An analysis of ozone impacts on Quercus rubra
- Cite this article as:
- Kelly, J.M., Samuelson, L., Edwards, G. et al. Water Air Soil Pollut (1995) 85: 1317. doi:10.1007/BF00477164
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The appropriateness of using seedling responses to predict mature tree responses to ozone is questionable considering the long life span of trees. To determine if northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) seedlings and mature trees respond similarly to ozone, 30-year-old trees and two-year-old seedlings were fumigated with subambient, ambient, and twice ambient concentrations of ozone for three growing seasons using an open-top chamber facility. Ozone reduced leaf physiological function of mature trees. However, stem diameter growth and leaf mass of mature trees were not significantly reduced by ozone. Photosynthesis in seedling leaves was slightly reduced by ozone, but seedling growth and biomass were unaffected. Mature tree fine-root biomass responded negatively to increasing ozone, while seedlings exhibited increases in biomass. Carbon retention was enhanced in leaves and branches of mature trees by ozone treatment, while seedlings were unresponsive. Differences in ozone uptake, recurrent flushing and carbon dynamics rather than microclimate may explain differences in ozone sensitivity between seedlings and mature trees. These results indicate that seedlings may not reflect the ozone sensitivity of larger more physiologically mature trees.