Lars O. Björn, T. V. Callaghan, Ib Johnsen, J. A. Lee, Y. Manetas, N. D. Paul, M. Sonesson, A. R. Wellburn, D. Coop, Henning Heide-Jørgensen, C. Gehrke, D. Gwynn-Jones, U. Johanson, A. Kyparissis, E. Levizou, D. Nikolopoulos, Y. Petropoulou, M. Stephanou
The effects of enhanced UV-B radiation on three examples of European shrub-dominated vegetation were studied in situ. The experiments were in High Arctic Greenland, northern Sweden and Greece, and at all sites investigated the interaction of enhanced UV-B radiation (simulating a 15% reduction in the ozone layer) with artificially increased precipitation. The Swedish experiment also involved a study of the interaction between enhanced UV-B radiation and elevated CO2 (600 ppm). These field studies were supported by an outdoor controlled environment study in the United Kingdom involving modulated enhancement of UV-B radiation in combination with elevated CO2 (700 ppm). Effects of the treatments on plant growth, morphology, phenology and physiology were measured. The effects observed were species specific, and included both positive and negative responses to the treatments. In general the negative responses to UV-B treatments of up to three growing seasons were small, but included reductions in shoot growth and premature leaf senescence. Positive responses included a marked increase in flowering in some species and a stimulation of some photosynthetic processes. UV-B treatment enhanced the drought tolerance of Pinus pinea and Pinus halepensis by increasing leaf cuticle thickness. In general, there were few interactions between the elevated CO2 and enhanced UV-B treatments. There was evidence to suggest that although the negative responses to the treatments were small, damage may be increasing with time in some long-lived woody perennials. There was also evidence in the third year of treatments for effects of UV-B on insect herbivory in Vaccinium species. The experiments point to the necessity for long-term field investigations to predict the likely ecological consequences of increasing UV-B radiation.