Effect of Forest Disturbance on Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds in Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
Processes that affect forest structure can impact the allocation of carbon within forest ecosystems, which has important implications for global climate change. A frequently overlooked aspect of carbon flux in forest ecosystems is the allocation of carbon to biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs). BVOCs are secondary plant metabolites involved in defense that have been shown to be influenced by environmental factors like light, temperature, and nitrogen availability. BVOCs, especially terpenes, are 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), in which aspen and birch trees were selectively girdled in 2008, 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.