Suvi Nikula, S. Manninen, E. Vapaavuori
Jul 1, 2011
Road traffic contributes considerably to ground-level air pollution and is therefore likely to affect roadside ecosystems. Differences in growth and leaf traits among 13 hybrid aspen (Populus tremula × P. tremuloides) clones were studied in relation to distance from a motorway. The trees sampled were growing 15 and 30 m from a motorway and at a background rural site in southern Finland. Litter decomposition was also measured at both the roadside and rural sites. Height and diameter growth rate and specific leaf area were lowest, and epicuticular wax amount highest in trees growing 15m from the motorway. Although no significant distance × clone interactions were detected, clone-based analyses indicated differences in genotypic responses to motorway proximity. Leaf N concentration did not differ with distance from the motorway for any of the clones. Leaf litter decomposition was only temporarily retarded in the roadside environment, suggesting minor effects on nutrient cycling.