Table_1_Edge Growth Form of European Buckthorn Increases Isoprene Emissions From Urban Forests.docx (26.84 kB)
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Table_1_Edge Growth Form of European Buckthorn Increases Isoprene Emissions From Urban Forests.docx

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posted on 06.01.2021, 04:11 authored by Aarti P. Mistry, Adam W. T. Steffeck, Mark J. Potosnak

Urban trees provide numerous benefits, such as cooling from transpiration, carbon sequestration, and street aesthetics. But volatile organic compound emissions from trees can combine with anthropogenic nitrogen oxide emissions to form ozone, a harmful air pollutant. The most commonly-emitted of these compounds, isoprene, negatively impacts air quality and hence is detrimental to human health. In addition to environmental controls such as light and temperature, the quantity of isoprene emitted from a leaf is a genus-specific trait. Leaf isoprene emission is enzymatically controlled, and species are typically classified as emitters or non-emitters (near-zero emission rates). Therefore, the species composition of urban forests affects whole-system isoprene production. The process of plant invasion alters species composition, and invasive tree species can be either emitters or non-emitters. If an invasive, isoprene-emitting tree species displaces native, non-emitting species, then isoprene emission rates from urban forests will increase, with a concomitant deterioration of air quality. We tested a hypothesis that invasive species have higher isoprene emission rates than native species. Using existing tree species inventory data for the Chicago region, leaf-level isoprene emission rates of the six most common invasive and native tree species were measured and compared. The difference was not statistically significant, but this could be due to the variability associated with making a sufficient number of measurements to quantify species isoprene emission rates. The most common invasive species European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica, L.) was an emitter. Because European buckthorn often invades the disturbed edges common in urban forests, we tested a second hypothesis that edge-effect isoprene emissions would significantly increase whole-system modeled isoprene emissions. Using Google Earth satellite imagery to estimate forested area and edge length in the LaBagh Woods Forest Preserve of Cook County (Chicago, IL, USA), edge isoprene emission contributed 8.1% compared to conventionally modeled forest emissions. Our results show that the invasion of European buckthorn has increased isoprene emissions from urban forests. This implies that ecological restoration efforts to remove European buckthorn have the additional benefit of improving air quality.