University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006
Meadow plant growth and competition under elevated ozone and carbon dioxide
Kaisa Henriikka Rämö
Doctoral dissertation, June 2006.
The main aim of my thesis project was to assess the impact of elevated ozone (O3) and carbon dioxide (CO2) on the growth, competition and community of meadow plants in northern Europe. The thesis project consisted of three separate O3 and CO2 exposure experiments that were conducted as open-top-chamber (OTC) studies at Jokioinen, SW Finland, and a smaller-scale experiment with different availabilities of resources in greenhouses in Helsinki. The OTC experiments included a competition experiment with two- and three-wise interactions, a mesocosm-scale meadow community with a large number of species, and a pot experiment that assessed intraspecific differences of Centaurea jacea ecotypes. The studied lowland hay meadow proved to be an O3-sensitive biotope, as the O3 concentrations used (40-50 ppb) were moderate, and yet, six out of nine species (Campanula rotundifolia, Centaurea jacea, Fragaria vesca, Ranunculus acris, Trifolium medium, Vicia cracca) showed either significant reductions in biomass or reproductive development, visible O3 injury or any two as a response to elevated O3. The plant species and ecotypes exhibited large intra- and interspecific variation in their response to O3, but O3 and CO2 concentrations did not cause changes in their interspecific competition or in community composition. However, the largest O3-induced growth reductions were seen in the least abundant species (C. rotundifolia and F. vesca), which may indicate O3-induced suppression of weak competitors. The overall effects of CO2 were relatively small and mainly restricted to individual species and several measured variables. Based on the present studies, most of the deleterious effects of tropospheric O3 are not diminished by a moderate increase in CO2 under low N availability, and variation exists between different species and variables. The present study indicates that the growth of several herb species decreases with increasing atmospheric O3 concentrations, and that these changes may pose a threat to the biodiversity of meadows. Ozone-induced reductions in the total community biomass production and N pool are likely to have important consequences for the nutrient cycling of the ecosystem.
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© University of Helsinki 2006
Last updated 19.05.2006