Early-season Effects of Supplemented Solar UV-B Radiation on Seedling Emergence, Canopy Structure, Simulated Stand Photosynthesis and Competition for Light

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Global Change Biology

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Mixtures and monocultures of wheat (Triticum aestivum) and wild oat (Avena fatua), a common weedy competitor of wheat, were exposed to enhanced solar UV‐B radiation simulating a 20% reduction in stratospheric ozone to assess the timing and seasonal development of the UV‐B effects on light competition in these species. Results from two years of field study revealed that UV‐B enhancement had no detectable effect on the magnitude or timing of seedling emergence in either species. End‐of‐season measurements showed significant UV‐B inhibition of leaf insertion height in wild oat in mixture and monoculture in the second year (irrigated year) but not in the first year (drought year). Leaf insertion height of wheat was not affected by UV‐B in either year. The UV‐B treatment had no detectable effect on monoculture or total (combined species) mixture LAI but did significantly increase (5–7%) the fractional contribution of wheat to the mixture LAI after four weeks of growth in both years. In addition, the UV‐B treatment had subtle effects on LAI height profiles with early season mixtures showing significant reductions in wild oat LAI in lower canopy layers in both years while midseason Year 2 mixtures showed significant reductions in wild oat LAI in upper canopy layers. The changes in canopy structure were found to significantly increase (6–7%) the proportional simulated clear sky canopy photosynthesis and light interception of wheat in mixture. These findings, and others, indicate that the effects of UV‐B enhancement on competition are realized very early in canopy development and provide additional support for the hypothesis that UV‐B enhancement may shift the balance of competition between these species indirectly by altering competitive interactions for light.

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