Response of juveniles of seven forest tree species and their populations to different combinations of simulated climate change-related stressors: spring-frost, heat, drought, increased UV radiation and ozone concentration under elevated CO2 level

Abstract

The study aimed to assess response of juvenile progeny of seven forest tree species, Pinus sylvestris, Picea abies, Betula pendula, Alnus glutinosa, Populus tremula, Quercus robur and Fraxinus excelsior, and their populations to different combinations of climate change-related multiple stressors, simulated in a phytotron under elevated CO2 concentration: (1) heat + elevated humidity (HW); (2) heat + frost + drought (HFD); (3) heat + elevated humidity + increased UV-B radiation doses + elevated ozone concentration (HWUO); and (4) heat + frost + drought + increased UV-B radiation doses + elevated ozone concentration (HFDUO). Effects of the complex treatments, species and species-by-treatment interaction were highly significant in most of the growth, physiological and biochemical traits studied, indicating general and species-specific responses to the applied treatments. For deciduous trees, height increment was much higher under HW treatment than in ambient conditions (control) indicating a positive effect of elevated temperature and better water and CO2 availability. HFD treatment caused reduction of height increment in comparison to HW treatment in most species except for Q. robur and F. excelsior which benefited from lower humidity. Treatments HWUO and HFDUO have caused substantial damages to leaves in fast growing deciduous P. tremula, A. glutinosa and B. pendula, and resulted in their lower height increment than in HW treatment, although it was the same or even higher than that in the control. Rates of photosynthesis in most of the tree species were greatest in HFD treatment. A lower photosynthetic rate (compared to control) was observed in B. pendula, P. tremula and F. excelsior in HW treatment, and in most species—in HWUO treatment. Compared to control, intrinsic water use efficiency in all treatments was significantly lower in P. tremula, A. glutinosa and F. excelsior and higher in conifers P. sylvestris and P. abies. Significant population-by-treatment interactions found for most traits showed variation in response of populations, implying that this reflects adaptive potential of each tree species. The observed responses may not always be considered as adaptive as deteriorating growth of some populations or species may lead to loss of their competitiveness thus compromising regeneration and natural successions.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by a grant (no. SIT-4/2015) from the Research Council of Lithuania. We are grateful to the staff of the phytotron for technical assistance in running the experiments and performing measurements. We are grateful to anonymous reviewers and Editor for their constructive comments and recommendations.

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Correspondence to Alfas Pliūra.

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Pliūra, A., Jankauskienė, J., Bajerkevičienė, G. et al. Response of juveniles of seven forest tree species and their populations to different combinations of simulated climate change-related stressors: spring-frost, heat, drought, increased UV radiation and ozone concentration under elevated CO2 level. J Plant Res 132, 789–811 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10265-019-01146-2

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Keywords

  • Complex treatments
  • Controlled environment
  • Growth
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Physiology
  • Phytotron
  • Stress