Ambient ozone injury to forest plants in Northeast and North Central USA: 16 years of biomonitoring
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The US Forest Service administers a long-term, nationwide ozone biomonitoring program in partnership with other state and federal agencies to address national concerns about ozone impacts on forest health. Biomonitoring surveys begun in 1994 in the East and 1998 in the West provide important regional information on ozone air quality and a field-based record of ozone injury unavailable from any other data source. Surveys in the Northeast and North Central subregions cover 450 field sites in 24 states where ozone-sensitive plants are evaluated for ozone-induced foliar injury every year. Sites are typically large, undisturbed openings (>3 acres in size) close to forested areas where >3 bioindicator species are available for evaluation. Over the 16-year sampling period, injury indices have fluctuated annually in response to seasonal ozone concentrations and site moisture conditions. Sites with and without injury occur at all ozone exposures but when ambient concentrations are relatively low, the percentage of uninjured sites is much greater than the percentage of injured sites; and regardless of ozone exposure, when drought conditions prevail, the percentage of uninjured sites is much greater than the percentage of injured sites. Results indicate a declining trend in foliar injury especially after 2002 when peak ozone concentrations declined across the entire region.
KeywordsAir quality Forest health Bioindicator SUM06 N100
John Coulston, USFS National Ozone Advisor and lead analyst for the ozone biomonitoring program, provided ozone air quality and site moisture estimates for this report using a variety of external data bases and peer-reviewed techniques. Dr. Robert Brooks, USFS Research Wildlife Biologist, provided invaluable statistical support and editorial feedback on the manuscript. The work is funded wholly or in part by the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) and Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) programs of the US Forest Service. We thank the many state forest health specialists, regional trainers, field crews, and quality assurance staff who work in partnership with the USFS to collect and verify the ozone data.
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