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Effects of dust on forest tree health in Zagros oak forests

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A Correction to this article was published on 20 August 2018

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Dust is one of the most devastating factors for the environment threatening all animal and plant species. In many regions, the ecological and economic impact of microdust on scarce species is critical. In the western region of Iran, the Zagros forests have been exposed to dust storms for many years. In this study, the effect of dust on oak trees, the most important trees of Zagros forests, is investigated. For this purpose, 3-year-old seedlings of three species of oak trees under natural conditions were exposed to dust during spring and summer months. Seedlings were divided into two groups; one group was assigned as dust treatment and the other as control that the control group washed regularly to remove dust. Anatomical characteristics of leaves and dust deposits on leaves during the study period were examined by scanning electron microscope (SEM). The rate of photosynthesis and gas exchange in control and treated plants was examined by IRGA, LCI. SEM images showed that stomata structure, trichome density, and epicuticular waxes of leaves are different in all three species. This difference in micromorphology of species influences the effects of dust deposited on the leaves. A comparison of leaf species images in control and dust treatment showed that in dust treatment the percentage of stomata blocked by dust in three species (per unit area) of Quercus infectoria, Q. libni, and Q. brantii were 61/6, 48/4, and 38/1%, respectively. The results of leaf gas exchange investigation indicated that stomatal occlusion by dust had a negative impact on the examined parameters of three oak species (P ≤ 0.01). Thus, gas exchange and photosynthetic rates of the treated species were significantly reduced. The results of both parts of the study showed the vulnerability of the three species to dust as Q. infectoria > Q. libni > Q. brantii. Therefore, based on these findings, dust can disrupt the physiological activities of the studied species and the continuation of the exposure to dust will accelerate the process of destruction of these forests.

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  • 20 August 2018

    The original version of this article unfortunately contained an error in the affiliation section.


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The authors would like to express their sincere gratitude to the staff of the Agricultural Research and Education Organization, Dr. Moradi, and Mr. Sohrabi for their useful guidance as well as their laboratorial support. In addition, the authors would like to thank Mr. Hamid Qiyasaddin who coordinated with the nursery and Mr. Amin Rastad who assisted in the forest work undertaken.

Author contributions statement

Aiuob Moradi designed the research, calculated the data, and analyzed the data with scientific advice of Dr. Kambiz Taheri Abkenar, Dr. Mansour Afshar Mohammadian, and Dr. Nagi Shabanian. Aiuob Moradi wrote the manuscript and all co-authors thoroughly reviewed and edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to A. Moradi.

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Moradi, A., Taheri Abkenar, K., Afshar Mohammadian, M. et al. Effects of dust on forest tree health in Zagros oak forests. Environ Monit Assess 189, 549 (2017).

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