Advances in understanding ozone impact on forest trees: Messages from novel phytotron and free-air fumigation studies

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Recent evidence from novel phytotron and free-air ozone (O3) fumigation experiments in Europe and America on forest tree species is highlighted in relation to previous chamber studies. Differences in O3 sensitivity between pioneer and climax species are examined and viewed for trees growing at the harsh alpine timberline ecotone. As O3 apparently counteracts positive effects of elevated CO2 and mitigates productivity increases, response is governed by genotype, competitors, and ontogeny rather than species per se. Complexity in O3 responsiveness increased under the influence of pathogens and herbivores. The new evidence does not conflict in principle with previous findings that, however, pointed to a low ecological significance. This new knowledge on trees' O3 responsiveness beyond the juvenile stage in plantations and forests nevertheless implies limited predictability due to complexity in biotic and abiotic interactions. Unravelling underlying mechanisms is mandatory for assessing O3 risks as an important component of climate change scenarios. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.

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Environmental Pollution