Forests in northern Fennoscandia are mainly composed of the O3-sensitive species—Scots pine and downy, mountain, and silver birches. Seminatural vegetation also contributes to biodiversity, carbon cycling, and ecosystem services as a part of forests, mires, meadows, and road verges. Fumigation experiments show that current O3 concentrations of 30–50 ppb reduce plant biomass production and reproduction. Visible foliar injury is attributable to peak O3 concentrations and relates to fast phenological development and high growth rate. Trees can acclimate to O3-induced water stress by producing more xeromorphic leaves or needles. The direct effects of O3 on grassland vegetation also translate to changes in the structure and size of the soil microbial community, and ecosystem N cycling. It is necessary to reduce the emission of O3 precursors and maintain high biodiversity to protect northern ecosystems. Regular, systematic, countrywide monitoring and validation as well as quantification of the effects of O3 on plants in the Nordic countries are also necessary.
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Vol. 38 • No. 8