Andersen, C.P. W.E. Hogsett, M. Plocher, K. Rodecap, and E. Henry Lee, 2001. Blue wild-rye grass competition increases the effect of ozone on ponderosa pine seedlings. Tree Physiology 21:319-327.
Individual ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex Laws.) seedlings were grown in mesocosms with three densities of blue wild-rye grass (Elymus glaucus Buckl.) (equivalent to 0, 32 or 88 plants m-2) to determine if the presence of a natural competitor alters the response of ponderosa pine seedlings to ozone. After 3 years of ozone exposure, grass presence reduced total ponderosa pine dry mass by nearly 50%, whereas ozone alone had no significant effect on ponderosa pine growth. The combination of ozone and grass further reduced needle, stem and branch dry mass significantly below that induced by grass competition alone. Root:shoot ratios increased in response to the combined grass and ozone treatments. Grass competition significantly reduced soluble sugar concentrations in all ponderosa pine tissue components examined. Starch concentrations were highly variable but did not differ significantly between treatments. Ozone significantly reduced soluble sugar concentrations in fine roots and stems. In the absence of grass, ozone-treated seedlings tended to have higher tissue N concentrations than controls. In the presence of grass, ozone-treated seedlings had lower N concentrations than controls, resulting in a significant interaction between these two stresses in 1- and 2-year-old needles. Needle C:N ratios decreased in response to grass competition, as a result of increased N concentration and no change in C concentration. The opposite response was observed in ozone-treated seedlings as a result of decreased N concentrations, indicating that ozone-treated seedlings were unable to take up or retain as much nitrogen when grown in the presence of grass. We conclude that ponderosa pine seedlings are more susceptible to ozone when grown in competition with blue wild-rye grass.