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[en] We present a focus issue of Environmental Research Letters on the ‘Recent dynamics of arctic and sub-arctic vegetation’. The focus issue includes three perspective articles (Verbyla 2011 Environ. Res. Lett. 6 041003, Williams et al 2011 Environ. Res. Lett. 6 041004, Loranty and Goetz 2012 Environ. Res. Lett. 7 011005) and 22 research articles. The focus issue arose as a result of heightened interest in the response of high-latitude vegetation to natural and anthropogenic changes in climate and disturbance regimes, and the consequences that these vegetation changes might have for northern ecosystems. A special session at the December 2010 American Geophysical Union Meeting on the ‘Greening of the Arctic’ spurred the call for papers. Many of the resulting articles stem from intensive research efforts stimulated by International Polar Year projects and the growing acknowledgment of ongoing climate change impacts in northern terrestrial ecosystems. (synthesis and review)
[en] A synthesis of research on the responses of terrestrial biota (1095 effect sizes) to industrial pollution (206 point emission sources) was conducted to reveal regional and global patterns from small-scale observational studies. A meta-analysis, in combination with other statistical methods, showed that the effects of pollution depend on characteristics of the specific polluter (type, amount of emission, duration of impact on biota), the affected organism (trophic group, life history), the level at which the response was measured (organism, population, community), and the environment (biome, climate). In spite of high heterogeneity in responses, we have detected several general patterns. We suggest that the development of evolutionary adaptations to pollution is a common phenomenon and that the harmful effects of pollution on terrestrial ecosystems are likely to increase as the climate warms. We argue that community- and ecosystem-level responses to pollution should be explored directly, rather than deduced from organism-level studies. - Research synthesis demonstrated that the harmful effects of pollution on terrestrial ecosystems are likely to increase as the climate warms.
[en] Aim of the study: The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of initial spacing on early growth and carbon sequestration rates in Turkish red pine plantations up to 12 years old, established with improved seeds and deep soil cultivation. Area of study: The study was conducted on experimental sites established in two locations within the Turkish red pine natural distribution areas, namely Du acı and Nebiler close to Antalya city. Material and methods: Data were collected from the experimental sites established as a Nelder design (fan-shaped), with 72 rays and 18 arcs (circles), and trees were planted (almost square) at distances ranging from 1.15 to 4.77 m. Soil type of both sites is loamy, with soil clay content varying between 70-87% in Duacı and 51-70% in Nebiler. Soils are deep being more than one m in both sites, but rockier in Nebiler, providing better soil drainage in this site. Main results: The results showed that mean total height was greater at closer spacing than those of wider spacing until age eight. Growth retardation at wider spacing in early years may be related to water loss due to evaporation in hot summer days and weed suppression. Following the age eight, competition among trees appears to be the major factor reducing the growth and carbon fixation. Diameter at breast height and individual tree volume increased, while stand volume, mean annual volume increment and annual carbon storage per hectare considerably decreased for wider spacing. Our results suggest that in order to obtain higher yield and more carbon fixation, short rotation plantations should initially be established in closer spacing, followed by thinning in subsequent years as required by silvicultural concerns. In this context, spacing 3.0 × 1.0 m or 3.0 × 1.5 m (3.0 and 4.5 m2 growing area per tree, respectively) seems to be more plausible, providing farm machinery for maintenance and harvesting. We also found that mean annual volume increment per unit area can be considerably increased by using improved seed and deep soil cultivation in plantations. Research highlights: Results encourage managers for short rotation management in industrial plantations using closer spacing in terms of carbon sequestration as well as wood production. (Author)
[en] After the Chernobyl event, the problem of contamination of natural and semi-natural ecosystems has been particularly salient even where these non-agricultural land areas appear to generate only a small fraction of the annual food intakes of certain populations. A concise discussion of some features of natural ecosystems is presented here, with the objective of stimulating a closer inspection of the relative impact of these natural ecosystems on the eventual dose to man. The ability of natural systems to scavenge considerable amounts of contamination is emphasized and it is suggested that there is a need for further work to quantify the importance of these environments, relative to agricultural systems, in terms of producing eventual transfers to man. (author)
[en] Soil is an essential component of all terrestrial ecosystems and is under increasing threat from human activity. Techniques available for removing radioactive contamination from soil and aquatic substrates are limited and often costly to implement; particularly over large areas. Frequently, bulk soil removal, with its attendant consequences, is a significant component of the majority of contamination incidents. Alternative techniques capable of removing contamination or exposure pathways without damaging or removing the soil are therefore of significant interest. An increasing number of old nuclear facilities are entering 'care and maintenance', with significant ground contamination issues. Phyto-remediation - the use of plants' natural metabolic processes to remediate contaminated sites is one possible solution. Its key mechanisms include phyto-extraction and phyto-stabilisation. These are analogues of existing remedial techniques. Further, phyto-remediation can improve soil quality and stability and restore functionality. Information on the application of phyto-remediation in the nuclear industry is widely distributed over an extended period of time and sources. It is therefore difficult to quickly and effectively identify which plants would be most suitable for phyto-remediation on a site by site basis. In response, a phyto-remediation tool has been developed to address this issue. Existing research and case studies were reviewed to understand the mechanisms of phyto-remediation, its effectiveness and the benefits and limitations of implementation. The potential for cost recovery from a phyto-remediation system is also briefly considered. An overview of this information is provided here. From this data, a set of matrices was developed to guide potential users through the plant selection process. The matrices take the user through a preliminary screening process to determine whether the contamination present at their site is amenable to phyto-remediation, and to give a rough indication as to what plants might be suitable. The second two allow the user to target specific plant species that would be most likely to successfully establish based on prevailing site conditions. The outcome of this study is a phyto-remediation tool that can facilitate the development of phyto-remediation projects, avoiding the need for in-depth research to identify optimal plant species on a case-by-case basis. (authors)