University of Oulu

Scots pine needle longevity and other shoot characteristics along pollution gradients

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Author: Lamppu, Jukka1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2002
Publish Date: 2002-12-14
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Science, University of Oulu, for public discussion in Kuusamonsali (Auditorium YB 210), Linnanmaa, on December 14th, 2002, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Professor John D. Marshall
Professor Peter B. Reich


Branches of adult Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) trees were sampled from boreal dry pine forests to study needle longevity, its variation and its relation to other shoot characteristics. The stands studied were located along transects from two smelters and one city, e.g. along gradients of pollution impact. Constant needle age structures were assumed and static life-tables generated.

Mean needle longevity was calculated as the sum of the proportions of living needle fascicles on the successive annual shoots. It fully incorporated the information of the static life-tables and was preferred to median or maximum ages because of its significantly lower variation. The first half of the shedding span, the duration of the period when the needle survival gradually dropped from 90 to 50 %, proved to validly reflect the changes in the needle age structure.

Needle longevity decreased 15-40 % towards the pollution sources along the transects studied. Near the smelters, needle longevity decreased with the increasing needle Fe, or Fe, Ni and Cu concentration that represented the main constituents of the airborne particle emissions. Near the city, needle longevity decreased with the increasing needle N and P concentrations, annual needle mass and needle mass packing and decreasing needle area packing.

In the urban forests, needle Mg, P and K concentrations decreased linearly with the decreasing needle survival from the second to the fourth needle age class. Concentrations in the living needles of the fourth age class stayed over 80 % of the average for all the age classes, though needle survival dropped below 50 %. A decreasing needle Mn concentration was detected towards all the emission sources. Leaching, especially from the soil, as a possible cause was discussed.

Needle longevity had the lowest variation among the shoot characteristics, which increases its value as a tool in ecological monitoring. Low plasticity in needle longevity could be an acclimation to the ambient environmental conditions and length of the growing season and to maximise the carbon gain per time. Needle longevity decreased and annual needle mass and leaf mass per area increased upwards in the crowns of mature Scots pines, reflecting the acclimation to irradiance.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. A, Scientiae rerum naturalium
ISSN-E: 1796-220X
ISBN: 951-42-6882-2
ISBN Print: 951-42-6881-4
Issue: 395
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2002. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.