Regional Assessment of Ozone Sensitive Tree Species Using Bioindicator Plants
Tropospheric ozone occurs at phytotoxic levels in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. Quantifying possible regional-scale impacts of ambient ozone on forest tree species is difficult and is confounded by other factors, such as moisture and light, which influence the uptake of ozone by plants. Biomonitoring provides an approach to document direct foliar injury irrespective of direct measure of ozone uptake. We used bioindicator and field plot data from the USDA Forest Service to identify tree species likely to exhibit regional-scale ozone impacts. Approximately 24% of sampled sweetgum (Liquidambar styruciflua), 15% of sampled loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), and 12% of sampled black cherry (Prunus serotina) trees were in the highest risk category. Sweetgum and loblolly pine trees were at risk on the coastal plain of Maryland, Virginia and Delaware. Black cherry trees were at risk on the Allegheny Plateau (Pennsylvania), in the Allegheny Mountains (Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland) as well as coastal plain areas of Maryland and Virginia. Our findings indicate a need for more in-depth study of actual impacts on growth and reproduction of these three species.