Effect of forest disturbance on biogenic volatile organic compounds in eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)
Bergh, Kathryn C. (Katie)
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Processes that affect forest structure can impact the allocation of carbon within forest ecosystems. The allocation of carbon to biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs), especially to terpenes, is of particular interest due to their roles in the formation of secondary organic aerosols (SOAs) and tropospheric ozone in the atmosphere. Both SOAs and tropospheric ozone impact climate change and are detrimental to human and ecosystem health. The Forest Accelerated Succession Experiment (FASET) at the University of Michigan Biological Station, in which aspen and birch trees were selectively girdled, mimics two processes that can be expected to impact the structure of forests in coming decades: natural senescence of first-growth aspen and birch species, and increased frequency of intermediate disturbances due to climate change. GC-MS analysis of the BVOC content of needles from eastern white pine (P. strobus) trees demonstrated that P. strobus trees in the disturbed forest (FASET) had significantly higher average total BVOC concentration than needles from P. strobus trees in an undisturbed control forest. In addition, comparing the BVOC pool of the same P. strobus trees between 2008 and 2012 showed significant inter-annual variation in the concentration of BVOCs. However, the environmental and physical factors measured during sampling were not sufficient to explain the observed differences in BVOC concentration between the two forests. Further study is necessary to fully understand the possible implications of this type of disturbance on carbon allocation to BVOCs in future forests.