Journal Entry 2: Elevated atmospheric CO2 alters wood production, wood quality and wood strength of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L) after three years of enrichment

Conducted by Ceulemans R., Jach M. E., Van De Velde R., Lin J. X., and Stevens M. in 2002, a study attempts to attain further knowledge on the effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on trees. In the article published in Global Change Biology, 8, 153–162, titled “Elevated atmospheric CO2 alters wood production, wood quality and wood strength of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L) after three years of enrichment,” the research aims to answer the question: will elevated CO2 alter the wood anatomy and wood quality of Scots pine trees?

In a world rising CO2, understanding the physiological change of forest woods due to enhanced CO2 would provide knowledge to their expected properties in the future. In the study, Scots pine trees placed in open top chambers were observed under current atmospheric CO2 levels and elevated atmospheric CO2 levels. The research concluded that the exposure to elevated atmospheric CO2, in a span of 3 years, led to an increase in the volume and stem biomass of the trees while wood strength decreased and density remained the same. ANOVA was used to test for significant effects of the groups.

The type of data that was obtained to answer the question were physiological measurements, specifically growth ring width, wood density, stem diameter, and strength. The data was attained through the means of directly observing the species and recording the measurements. The data was analyzed by comparing the trees exposed to elevated CO2 to the trees exposed to current CO2 and statistically testing for significant differences.

The research demonstrated great validity. Because the physiology of trees can be influenced by stress, animals interacting with the tree for example, the isolation of the trees virtually eliminated the potential error of measuring stress responses. The research was also knowledgeable of its limitation, empathizing that the study only involved juvenile wood and that the results cannot be generalized to mature wood because the two have different anatomical structures. In this study, neither nutrients nor water was applied. As a suggestion, future research involving the same circumstances with the addition of grouping the trees – where one group is treated with nutrients and water, the other not – would provide insight to the influence of nutrients and water to wood production under elevated CO2.