Institute for Applied Plant Biology

Schönenbuch, Switzerland

Institute for Applied Plant Biology

Schönenbuch, Switzerland
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Braun S.,Institute for Applied Plant Biology | Achermann B.,Federal Office for the Environment | De Marco A.,ENEA | Pleijel H.,Gothenburg University | And 4 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2017

For human health studies, epidemiology has been established as important tool to examine factors that affect the frequency and distribution of disease, injury, and other health-related events in a defined population, serving the purpose of establishing prevention and control programs. On the other hand, gradient studies have a long tradition in the research of air pollution effects on plants. While there is no principal difference between gradient and epidemiological studies, the former address more one-dimensional transects while the latter focus more on populations and include more experience in making quantitative predictions, in dealing with confounding factors and in taking into account the complex interplay of different factors acting at different levels. Epidemiological analyses may disentangle and quantify the contributions of different predictor variables to an overall effect, e.g. plant growth, and may generate hypotheses deserving further study in experiments. Therefore, their use in ecosystem research is encouraged. This article provides a number of recommendations on: (1) spatial and temporal aspects in preparing predictor maps of nitrogen deposition, ozone exposure and meteorological covariates; (2) extent of a dataset required for an analysis; (3) choice of the appropriate regression model and conditions to be satisfied by the data; (4) selection of the relevant explanatory variables; (5) treatment of interactions and confounding factors; and (6) assessment of model validity. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.


Braun S.,Institute for Applied Plant Biology | Schindler C.,Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute | Rihm B.,Meteotest
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2017

Understanding the effects of nitrogen deposition, ozone and climate on tree growth is important for planning sustainable forest management also in the future. The complex interplay of all these factors cannot be covered by experiments. Here we use observational data of mature forests for studying associations of various biotic and abiotic factors with tree growth. A 30 year time series on basal area increment of Fagus sylvatica L. and Picea abies Karst. in Switzerland was analyzed to evaluate the development in relation to a variety of predictors. Basal area increment of Fagus sylvatica has clearly decreased during the observation period. For Picea abies no trend was observed. N deposition of more than 26 (beech) or 20–22 kg N ha− 1 year− 1 (Norway spruce) was negatively related with basal area increment, in beech stronger than in Norway spruce. High N deposition loads and low foliar K concentrations in Fagus were correlated with increased drought sensitivity. High air temperatures in winter were negatively related with basal area increment in Norway spruce in general and in beech at high N:Mg ratio or high N deposition while on an average the relation was positive in beech. Fructification in beech was negatively related to basal area increment. The increase of fructification observed during the last decades contributed thus to the growth decrease. Ozone flux was significantly and negatively correlated with basal area increment both in beech and Norway spruce. The results show clear non-linear effects of N deposition on stem increment of European beech and Norway spruce as well as strong interactions with climate which have contributed to the growth decrease in beech and may get more important in future. The results not only give suggestions for ecological processes but also show the potential of an integral evaluation of observational data. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.


de Witte L.C.,Institute for Applied Plant Biology | Rosenstock N.P.,Lund University | van der Linde S.,Imperial College London | van der Linde S.,Jodrell Laboratory | Braun S.,Institute for Applied Plant Biology
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2017

Atmospheric pollution has implications for the health and diversity of temperate forests covering large parts of central Europe. Long-term elevated anthropogenic deposition of nitrogen (N) is driving forest ecosystems from the limitation by N to other nutrients and is found to affect tree health and ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF), which most trees depend on for nutrient uptake. However, the consequence of EMF community changes for trees remains unclear. Therefore, we investigated changes in EMF communities on root tips and in soil of beech forests along a N deposition gradient ranging between 16 and 33 kg N ha− 1 a− 1, where high N deposition was found to negatively affect tree growth and nutrient levels. The most important factors significantly explaining variation in root tip and mycelium EMF community composition in both root tips and mesh bags were increased N deposition, base saturation, growing season temperature and precipitation. With increasing N deposition, fine root length, EMF root colonization, EMF diversity on root tips and in soil, and production of extramatrical mycelium decreased significantly. Foliar P and potassium (K) were positively associated with increasing EMF diversity and we found EMF community composition to be associated with foliar P and N:P ratio. The decrease in root colonization, mesh bag ingrowth and abundance of the important species Cenococcum geophilum as well as high biomass species with increasing N availability clearly indicate repercussions for belowground carbon allocation, although some indicator species for high N deposition and low foliar P have long mycelia and may reflect a potential optimization of host P uptake. Our study supports the hypothesis that the decrease in nutrient uptake in beech forests across Europe is related to changes in EMF communities and suggests that continued high N deposition changes soil carbon and nutrient cycles, thereby affecting forest ecosystem health. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.


Braun S.,Institute for Applied Plant Biology | Schindler C.,Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute | Rihm B.,Meteotest
Environmental Pollution | Year: 2014

The estimate of growth losses by ozone exposure of forest trees is a significant part in current C sequestration calculations and will also be important in future modeling. It is therefore important to know if the relationship between ozone flux and growth reduction of young trees, used to derive a Critical Level for ozone, is also valid for mature trees. Epidemiological analysis of stem increment data from Fagus sylvatica L. and Picea abies Karst. observed in Swiss forest plots was used to test this hypothesis. The results confirm the validity of the flux-response relationship at least for beech and therefore enable estimating forest growth losses by ozone on a country-wide scale. For Switzerland, these estimates amount to 19.5% growth reduction for deciduous forests, 6.6% for coniferous forests and 11.0% for all forested areas based on annual ozone stomatal uptake during the time period 1991-2011. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Urban J.,Mendel University in Brno | Bequet R.,University of Antwerp | Mainiero R.,Institute for Applied Plant Biology
Journal of Experimental Botany | Year: 2011

Several electrical methods have been introduced as non-invasive techniques to overcome the limited accessibility to root systems. Among them, the earth impedance method (EIM) represents the most recent development. Applying an electrical field between a cormus and the rooted soil, the EIM measures the absorptive root surface area (ARSA) from grounding resistance patterns. Allometric relationships suggested that this method was a valuable tool. Crucial assumptions for the applicability of the EIM, however, have not been tested experimentally. Focusing on tree root systems, the present study assesses the applicability of the EIM. Six hypotheses, deduced from the EIM approach, were tested in several experiments and the results were compared with conventional methods. None of the hypotheses could be verified and the results allow two major conclusions. First, in terms of an analogue electrical circuit, a tree-root-soil continuum appears as a serial circuit with xylem and soil resistance being the dominant components. Allometric variation in contact resistance, with the latter being the proxy for root surface area, are thus overruled by the spatial and seasonal variation of soil and xylem resistances. Second, in a tree-root-soil continuum, distal roots conduct only a negligible portion of the electric charge. Most of charge carriers leave the root system in the proximal parts of the root-soil interface. © 2010 The Author(s).


Braun S.,Institute for Applied Plant Biology | Schindler C.,Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute | Leuzinger S.,ETH Zurich
Environmental Pollution | Year: 2010

For a quantitative estimate of the ozone effect on vegetation reliable models for ozone uptake through the stomata are needed. Because of the analogy of ozone uptake and transpiration it is possible to utilize measurements of water loss such as sap flow for quantification of ozone uptake. This technique was applied in three beech (Fagus sylvatica) stands in Switzerland. A canopy conductance was calculated from sap flow velocity and normalized to values between 0 and 1. It represents mainly stomatal conductance as the boundary layer resistance in forests is usually small. Based on this relative conductance, stomatal functions to describe the dependence on light, temperature, vapour pressure deficit and soil moisture were derived using multivariate nonlinear regression. These functions were validated by comparison with conductance values directly estimated from sap flow. The results corroborate the current flux parameterization for beech used in the DO3SE model. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Braun S.,Institute for Applied Plant Biology | Thomas V.F.D.,Institute for Applied Plant Biology | Quiring R.,Institute for Applied Plant Biology | Fluckiger W.,Institute for Applied Plant Biology
Environmental Pollution | Year: 2010

Effects of elevated N deposition on forest aboveground biomass were evaluated using long-term data from N addition experiments and from forest observation plots in Switzerland. N addition experiments with saplings were established both on calcareous and on acidic soils, in 3 plots with Fagus sylvatica and in 4 plots with Picea abies. The treatments were conducted during 15 years and consisted of additions of dry NH4NO3 at rates of 0, 10, 20, 40, 80, and 160 kg N ha-1 yr-1. The same tree species were observed in permanent forest observation plots covering the time span between 1984 and 2007, at modeled N deposition rates of 12-46 kg N ha-1 yr-1. Experimental N addition resulted in either no change or in a decreased shoot growth and in a reduced phosphorus concentration in the foliage in all experimental plots. In the forest, a decrease of foliar P concentration was observed between 1984 and 2007, resulting in insufficient concentrations in 71% and 67% of the Fagus and Picea plots, respectively, and in an increasing N:P ratio in Fagus. Stem increment decreased during the observation period even if corrected for age. Forest observations suggest an increasing P limitation in Swiss forests especially in Fagus which is accompanied by a growth decrease whereas the N addition experiments support the hypothesis that elevated N deposition is an important cause for this development. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Mills G.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Pleijel H.,Gothenburg University | Braun S.,Institute for Applied Plant Biology | Buker P.,University of York | And 11 more authors.
Atmospheric Environment | Year: 2011

The critical levels for ozone effects on vegetation have been reviewed and revised by the LRTAP Convention. Eight new or revised critical levels based on the accumulated stomatal flux of ozone (PODY, the Phytotoxic Ozone Dose above a threshold flux of Y nmol m-2 PLA s-1, where PLA is the projected leaf area) have been agreed. For each receptor, data were combined from experiments conducted under naturally fluctuating environmental conditions in 2-4 countries, resulting in linear dose-response relationships with response variables specific to each receptor (r2 = 0.49-0.87, p < 0.001 for all). For crops, critical levels were derived for effects on wheat (grain yield, grain mass, and protein yield), potato (tuber yield) and tomato (fruit yield). For forest trees, critical levels were derived for effects on changes in annual increment in whole tree biomass for beech and birch, and Norway spruce. For (semi-)natural vegetation, the critical level for effects on productive and high conservation value perennial grasslands was based on effects on important component species of the genus Trifolium (clover species). These critical levels can be used to assess protection against the damaging effects of ozone on food security, important ecosystem services provided by forest trees (roundwood production, C sequestration, soil stability and flood prevention) and the vitality of pasture. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Mainiero R.,Institute for Applied Plant Biology | Kazda M.,University of Ulm | Schmid I.,University of Ulm
European Journal of Forest Research | Year: 2010

Fine root dynamics in mono-specific stands of mature Fagus sylvatica L. and Picea abies Karst. was studied from December 2003 to December 2004 in a stand in Southern Germany. Minirhizotrons were used to draw between species comparisons concerning fine root (≤1 mm) longevity and temporal patterns of fine root dynamics (growth and mortality) as related to seasonal changes in soil water content and soil temperature. In F. sylvatica, median fine root longevity from early seasonal to late-seasonal cohorts was low (77 days). Fine root dynamics scaled positively with seasonal changes in soil water and temperature indicating accelerated fine root turnover during favourable soil conditions. In contrast, fine root longevity in P. abies (273 days) was significantly higher when compared to F. sylvatica and increased from early seasonal to late-seasonal cohorts. Fine root dynamics in P. abies did not correlate with soil environmental conditions. Rather a large proportion of new fine roots occurred during the dry season in superficial soil layers. The data suggest species inherent patterns of fine root longevity and temporal patterns of fine root dynamics. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.


PubMed | Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Institute for Applied Plant Biology and Meteotest
Type: | Journal: Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) | Year: 2014

The estimate of growth losses by ozone exposure of forest trees is a significant part in current C sequestration calculations and will also be important in future modeling. It is therefore important to know if the relationship between ozone flux and growth reduction of young trees, used to derive a Critical Level for ozone, is also valid for mature trees. Epidemiological analysis of stem increment data from Fagus sylvatica L. and Picea abies Karst. observed in Swiss forest plots was used to test this hypothesis. The results confirm the validity of the flux-response relationship at least for beech and therefore enable estimating forest growth losses by ozone on a country-wide scale. For Switzerland, these estimates amount to 19.5% growth reduction for deciduous forests, 6.6% for coniferous forests and 11.0% for all forested areas based on annual ozone stomatal uptake during the time period 1991-2011.

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