The Effects of Solar UV-B Radiation (280–315 nm) on Higher Plants: Implications of Stratospheric Ozone Reduction

  • Martyn M. Caldwell


For each 1% reduction in the atmospheric ozone column there would be a predictable increase of approximately 2% in solar UV-B radiation weighted for biological effectiveness, UV-BBE. Yet, physiological manifestations reflecting the net unrepaired damage to higher plants would not necessarily increase as a linear function of the UV-BBE enhancement. Recent evidence shows that for impairment of photosynthetic capacity, the response to UV-BBE was quite nonlinear. There was, however, no apparent threshold of UV-BBE to which the plants must be exposed before photosynthetic damage ensued and reciprocity in the response to UV-B applied over a considerable period of time. If the accumulative mode of damage to the photosynthetic apparatus is generally applicable to higher plants, even moderately UV-B resistant species may be affected by small increases in UV-B radiation, if such species possess long-lived leaves which are exposed to full sunlight. Because higher plant species appear to be differentially sensitive to UV-B radiation, the ecological significance of ozone reduction may lie more in changes in the competitive balance of species rather than in reduced primary productivity per se. The differential UV-B sensitivity of higher plant species may be related to the optical properties of tissues covering physiological targets and the efficacy of repair mechanisms.


Ozone Concentration Spectral Irradiance Atmospheric Ozone Competitive Balance High Plant Species 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martyn M. Caldwell
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. Range Science and Ecology CenterUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

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