We spent the last two weeks of May 2019 at the Station Alpin du Lautaret in the French Alps, which has been designated a Research Platform for long-term ecological studies under the framework of Horizon 2020 Transnational Access – who funded our research visit through the French National Centre for Scientific Research, CNRS.
Our team of researchers, collaborating with José Ignacio García Plazaola and Beatriz Fernandez-Marin from the University of the Basque-Country, to study how plants response to the steep increases in UV radiation that they receive on emergence from under snow cover in spring.
You can read about our finding in Physiology Plantarum following this link: Full Text Access
By characterising the patterns of response to UV radiation in terms of the photoprotection and UV-screening of plants across a diversity of species, we hope to better understand how and why these response evolved and what environmental cues underpin their induction.
We tested how European beech seedlings from across Europe respond to manipulations of light and watering conditions during the growing season in Finland. Our recent paper in Trees: Structure & Function reports on differences among populations receiving combinations of drought, and sun or shade conditions, including gas exchange, water relations, and UV-abs compounds in the leaf epidermis.
Wang F, Israel D, Ramírez-Valiente J-A, Sánchez-Gómez D, Aranda I, Aphalo PJ, Robson TM. (2021) Seedlings from marginal and core populations of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) respond differently to imposed drought and shade. Trees Structure and Function, 35, 53-67. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-020-02011-9
The UNEP EEAP 2020 Update has just been published in Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences. This year the assessment includes a section & supplement on the implications of these environmental effects for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Changes in UV radiation and climate have the potential to alter habitat suitability for plant species in terrestrial ecosystems.
Species native to Antarctic are adapted to live under the extreme conditions, but continued changes in UV radiation and climate in this environment could exceed the limits of tolerances and survival of many native species of animal and plants.
Stratospheric ozone depletion affects the Antarctic climate with direct consequences for the environment of terrestrial Antarctic ecosystems.
Plant responses to UV radiation are contingent on other changing environmental conditions, and these effects collectively influence crop quality and production
Acclimation of plants to changes in UV radiation may depend on the adaptation of species to grow in more open or shaded environments and could lead to shifts in functional diversity as vegetative cover changes with climate change and land use.
The sensitivity of pollen to UV radiation and its preservation in the fossil record make it attractive for use in reconstructing UV radiation from the geological past.
Technological advances are allowing for the use of UV radiation to improve agricultural sustainability.
To find out more the open-access publication: Neale, et al. (2021) Environmental effects of stratospheric ozone depletion, UV radiation, and interactions with climate: UNEP Environmental Effects Assessment Panel, Update 2020. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences, https://doi.org/10.1007/s43630-020-00001-x
Two PhD students in the CanSEE group will start their studies joining our Academy Project studying how climate change, altering cloudiness and atmospheric features, affects the light use of forest and crop canopies.
The contribution of photodegradation to litter decomposition in a temperate forest gap and understorey
In a study recently published in New Phytologist with our collaborator Qing-Wei Wang, we found that the spectral composition of light in a forest gap and understorey through the year affected the rate of photodegradation of senescent leaf litter material across a variety of native plant species. This finding that photodegradation plays an important role in forest litter decomposition has potentially far-reaching consequences, and could partially explain the hole in the carbon budget in this ecosystem.
Wang QW, Pieristè M, Kenta T, Liu C, Robson TM†, Kurokawa H† (2020) Photodegradation enhances litter decomposition modulated with canopy openness in a temperate forest. New Phytologist. NPH17022 https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.17022
Enhanced decomposition can occur through direct photochemical mineralisation, but in temperate forests effects of increased temperature and the availability of substrates for microbial decompositions can be even more important. These actions of photofacilitation are highly wavelength dependent and the subtilties of these responses can only be identified through very large scale experimental manipulations of sunlight, as was done in this ambitious experiment.
Marta Pieristè successfully defended her PhD dissertation, “Light after Death: the importance of spectral composition in litter decomposition processes” on Tuesday 16th June 2020 at 10:30 a.m. EET Finland. You can relive the PhD defence using the following video link: Marta Pieristè PhD defence
In addition to the Thesis Summary, the dissertation is composed of three published papers and one manuscript below:
Pieristè† Neimane† et al. (2020) Ultraviolet radiation accelerates photodegradation under controlled conditions but slows the decomposition of leaf litter from forest stands in southern Finland.Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. PLAPHY5920 146, 42–54. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.PLAPHY.2019.11.005
Pieristè et al., (2019) Solar UV-A radiation and blue light enhance tree leaf litter decomposition in a temperate forest by accelerating photodegradation rate.Oecologia, 191(1), 191-203. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-019-04478-x
The 2019 Update on the 2018 Quadrennial Assessment by the UNEP Environmental Effects Panel assessing how climate change, ozone and UV-B radiation interact is now published in Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences.
Bernhard et al., (2020), Environmental effects of stratospheric ozone depletion, UV radiation and interactions with climate change: UNEP Environmental Effects Assessment Panel, update 2019. Photochemical & Photobiological SciencesDOI: 10.1039/d0pp90011g
The Panel met in Alexandria on the South Island of New Zealand in September-October 2019 to consider the latest research into these effects on climate, human health, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem, materials, pollution, and biogeochemical cycling; as well as cross-cutting factors affecting all of these global concerns.
This year 2020, we will reconvene in September to consider what has been a very unusual year for ozone depletion and climate interactions in both the northern and southern hemispheres.
Craig Brelsford from the CanSEE group at the University of Helsinki will defend his PhD dissertation entitled, “Light quality affects leaf pigments and leaf phenology”, on Thursday June 4th, 2020 at 12 noon EET in Finland (11 a.m. CET in the rest of continental Europe).
We are grateful to a grant from HiLIFE Grand Challenges, Biological Resilience Seed Funding, allowing us to start work on the project: Surviving on the edge – trait syndromes that facilitate northerly species-range expansion.
This project will allow us to utilise a unique field-trial of Fagus sylvatica (European beech) at the University of Helsinki – far beyond the north-eastern limit of its range. Using such trials, we can compare the traits of populations in new potentially stressful environments, giving us the tools to forecast how they will respond to climate change and potentially exploit more northerly regions of Europe.
In addition to field data, the project will test how trait information can be inserted into species distribution models. We will bring together experts in the field from Helsinki and beyond, to discuss how best to develop such models to provide informed forecasts of future species distributions. Armed with this knowledge, we will consider how policy makers, foresters, and conservation bodies might utilise this information in their work.
In the latest paper published in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology together with our collaborators from Bordeaux we consider the effect of warming on the phenology of European beech.
Using ΔTrait Species Distribution Modelling of a large dataset from provenance trials, we established that not only earlier spring phenology but also delayed leaf senescence in northern populations allowed them to exploit warmer summer temperatures.
Beech is one of those forest trees that utilises a combination of temperature and day-length cues to prompt advancement of its annual growth cycle, meaning the climate warming and associated northerly range shifts have potentially complex outcomes for its phenology.
Homero Gárate-Escamilla, Craig C. Brelsford, Arndt Hampe, T. Matthew Robson, Marta Benito Garzón, (2020) Greater capacity to exploit warming temperatures in northern populations of European beech is partly driven by delayed leaf senescence, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, Volume 284,