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Effects of elevated ultraviolet radiation on Quercus robur and its insect and ectomycorrhizal associates


and present address: K.K. Newsham, British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Rd., Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK, fax + 44/(0)122 33–62–616, e-mail k.newsham@bas.


Saplings of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) were exposed at an outdoor facility to modulated levels of elevated UV-B radiation (280–315 nm) under treatment arrays of cellulose diacetate-filtered fluorescent lamps which also produced UV-A radiation (315–400 nm). Saplings were also exposed to UV-A radiation alone under control arrays of polyester-filtered lamps and to ambient levels of solar radiation under arrays of unenergized lamps. The UV-B treatment corresponded to a 30% elevation above the ambient level of erythemally weighted UV-B radiation. Sapling growth and the occurrence of associated organisms were examined over two years. In both years, leaves of saplings exposed to UV-B treatment were thicker and smaller in area relative to leaves exposed to ambient and control levels of radiation. UV-B treatment also retarded bud burst at one sampling in the first year of the study. Some responses were recorded which were common to both treatment and control arrays, implying that UV-A radiation, or some other factor associated with energized lamps, was responsible for the observed effects. Saplings under treatment and control arrays were taller in the first year of the study, suffered greater herbivory from chewing insects, and had lower root dry weights and greater insertion heights of secondary branches than saplings exposed to ambient levels of radiation. Exposure of saplings to elevated UV-A radiation alone under control arrays increased estimated leaf volumes in the second year of the study and reduced the number of secondary branches and the total number of branches per sapling after two years, relative to both treatment and ambient arrays. There were no effects of elevated ultraviolet radiation on shoot or total plant weight, root/shoot ratios, stem diameter, the numbers or insertion heights of primary or tertiary branches, total leaf number, timing of leaf fall or frequency of ectomycorrhizas. Our study suggests that any increases in UV-B radiation as a result of stratospheric ozone depletion will influence the growth of Q. robur primarily through effects on leaf morphology.

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