Modeling the potential effects of growth reductions and changes in photosynthetic efficiency and needle retention on the stand-level growth of loblolly pine plantations

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Virginia Tech

An existing individual tree growth and yield model (PT AEDA2) was modified study the potential effects of air pollution stress on the growth and yield of loblolly pine plantations. These modifications were based on the assumption that pollution stress on older trees could result in reductions in diameter and height growth, decreases in photosynthesis, and increased losses of older foliage, as demonstrated in some seedling studies.

One modification applied differential levels of reductions of diameter and height increments to various percentages of trees. Results indicated no sizeable losses on total volume per acre except at severe stress levels (-32 and -64 percent annual diameter and height increments on 50 and 67 percent of the trees).

Another modification consisted of developing a measure of photosynthetic potential to drive diameter and height growth in the model. This new measure was an estimate of foliage weight which was weighted by a factor of photosynthetic efficiency and needle retention for each age class of needles. Reductions of these weighting factors were applied to simulate air pollution stress. Results of this modification show that if air pollution does cause a decrease in photosynthesis and needle retention rates, the impact on over-all stand productivity is minimal. These results are not intended to be quantitative estimates of the effect of air pollution on tree growth but to identify potential areas within an existing growth and yield model where biologically-oriented processes to simulate air pollution impact can be incorporated.