Quercus ilex L. carbon sequestration capability related to shrub size
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- Gratani, L., Catoni, R. & Varone, L. Environ Monit Assess (2011) 178: 383. doi:10.1007/s10661-010-1697-8
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CO2 sequestration capacity of Quercus ilex L., an evergreen species developing in shrub and forest communities widely distributed in the Mediterranean Basin, was analysed. Experiments were carried out in the period of January to December 2009 on 20 shrubs of different size, growing at the Botanical Garden of Rome. At shrub level, the largest differences concern total photosynthetic leaf surface area per shrub and shrub volume. Shrubs structure significantly contribute to reduce total irradiance and air temperature below the canopy. Leaf mass per area is higher in sun leaves than in shade ones (20 ± 1 and 12 ± 2 mg cm − 2, respectively). Sun leaves are also characterised by the highest leaf thickness (78% higher in sun than in shade leaves), the spongy parenchyma thickness (71% higher in sun than in shade leaves) and the highest adaxial cuticle thickness (7.2 ± 1.2 and 4.7 ± 0.5 μm, respectively). Net photosynthetic rates (PN) of sun and shade leaves are the highest in spring, and shade leaves contribute 6% to the whole shrub PN. Q. ilex CO2 sequestration depends on shrub size. In particular, the CO2 sequestration per shrub was 0.20 ± 0.02 Kg CO2 year − 1 in small shrubs, and it was 75% and 98% lower than in medium and large ones. The highest CO2 sequestration is measured in spring, decreasing 77% during drought. Q. ilex may play a significant role in mitigating carbon dioxide concentration and lowering air and soil temperature in areas around the Mediterranean Basin.