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Plant Responses to Increased UV-B Radiation: A Research ProjectOzone decrease implies more ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation reaching the surface of the Earth. Increased UV-B radiation triggers responses by living organisms. Despite the large potential impacts on vegetation, little is known about UV-B effects on terrestrial ecosystems. Long-term ecological studies are needed to quantify the effects of increased UV radiation on terrestrial ecosystems, asses the risks, and produce reliable data for prediction. Screening pigments are part of one of the protective mechanism in plants. Higher concentrations of screening pigments in leaves may be interpreted as a response to increased UV radiation. If the screening effect is not sufficient, important molecules will be disturbed by incoming radiation. Thus, genetics, photosynthesis, growth, plant and leaf shape and size, and pollen grains may be affected. This will have an impact on ecosystem dynamics, structure and productivity. It is necessary to monitor selected terrestrial ecosystems to permit detection and interpretation of changes attributable to global climate change and depleted ozone shield. The objectives of this project are: (1) To identify and measure indicators of the effects of increased solar UV-B radiation on terrestrial plants; (2) to select indicators with the greatest responses to UV-B exposure; (3) to test, adapt or create ecosystem models that use the information gathered by this project for prediction and to enhance our understanding of the effects of increased UV-B radiation on terrestrial ecosystems. As a first step to achieve these objectives we propose a three-year study of forest and steppe vegetation on the North slope of the Brooks Range (within the Arctic circle, in Alaska), in the Saguaro National Monument (near Tucson, Arizona) and in the forests and steppes of Patagonia (Argentina). We selected (1) vegetation north of the Polar Circle because at 70N there is 8% risk of plant damage due to increased UV-B radiation; (2) the foothills of Catalina Mountains because there is anecdotal evidence of plant damage on the saguaros that has been linked to increased UV radiation, and (3) the forests of Nothofagus spp. and the steppe of Patagonia where the risk of plant damage at 35S is 5% and increases to as much as 15% at 55S due to increased UV-B radiation. Measurements of UV-B radiation impinging on the surface at 55S largely exceed the predicted UV-B radiation values at 50 latitude and 0% ozone depletion. Preliminary HPLC analyses of UV-B absorbing compounds in Nothofagus antartica, N. pumilio, N. betuloides and Rumex sp. in natural conditions show species-specific patterns. The spectrum of N. antartica grown at 38S differs significantly from that of N. antartica in natural conditions in Ushuaia (55S). These results suggest that the selected main area (Patagonia) is appropriate for assessing the problem and its magnitude and that Nothofagus is appropriate for our study.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
DAntoni, H. L. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Skiles, J. W. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Armstrong, R. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Coughlan, J. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Daleo, G.
Mayoral, A.
Lawless, James G.
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1994
Subject Category
Life Sciences (General)
Meeting Information
5th Global Warming Conference and Exposition(San Francisco, CA)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.