Browsing by Subject "ABSORBING COMPOUNDS"

Sort by: Order: Results:

Now showing items 1-2 of 2
  • Seddon, Alistair W. R.; Festi, Daniela; Robson, T. Matthew; Zimmermann, Boris (2019)
    Ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B, 280-315 nm) constitutes less than 1% of the total solar radiation that reaches the Earth's surface but has a disproportional impact on biological and ecological processes from the individual to the ecosystem level. Absorption of UV-B by ozone is also one of the primary heat sources to the stratosphere, so variations in UV-B have important relationships to the Earth's radiation budget. Yet despite its importance for understanding atmospheric and ecological processes, there is limited understanding about the changes in UV-B radiation in the geological past. This is because systematic measurements of total ozone and surface UV-B only exist since the 1970s, so biological or geochemical proxies from sediment archives are needed to reconstruct UV-B irradiance received at the Earth surface beyond the experimental record. Recent developments have shown that the quantification of UV-B-absorbing compounds in pollen and spores have the potential to provide a continuous record of the solar-ultraviolet radiation received by plants. There is increasing interest in developing this proxy in palaeoclimatic and palaeoecological research. However, differences in interpretation exist between palaeoecologists, who are beginning to apply the proxy under various geological settings, and UV-B ecologists, who question whether a causal dose-response relationship of pollen and spore chemistry to UV-B irradiance has really been established. Here, we use a proxy-system modelling approach to systematically assess components of the pollen-and spore-based UV-B-irradiance proxy to ask how these differences can be resolved. We identify key unknowns and uncertainties in making inferences about past UV-B irradiance, from the pollen sensor, the sedimentary archive, and through the laboratory and experimental procedures in order to target priority areas of future work. We argue that an interdisciplinary approach, modifying methods used by plant ecologists studying contemporary responses to solar-UV-B radiation specifically to suit the needs of palaeoecological analyses, provides a way forward in developing the most reliable reconstructions for the UV-B irradiance received by plants across a range of timescales.
  • Seddon, Alistair W. R.; Festi, Daniela; Nieuwkerk, Mayke; Gya, Ragnhild; Hamre, Borge; Kruger, Linn Cecilie; Ostman, Silje A. H.; Robson, T. Matthew (2021)
    Research indicates that phenolic compounds (e.g. para-coumaric acid) found within pollen grains may be useful as a proxy to reconstruct the UV-B radiation received at the Earth's surface in the geological past. However, application of this method to the plant-fossil record currently relies on a series of untested assumptions surrounding the ecological factors driving the response of pollen grains in the contemporary environment. Here, we investigate the relationship of Pinus spp. pollen to UV-B radiation using individuals of five populations sampled from three elevation gradients across Europe. We develop a novel radiation-modelling approach, which allows us to estimate the UV-B radiation dose of individual trees, weighted by different UV-B action spectra. We then use linear mixed-effects modelling to investigate: (a) whether the variations in UV-B-absorbing compounds in Pinus pollen are best described by models using coarser (subgenus) or finer (population) taxonomic levels; and (b) the duration of the period of accumulation of UV-B-absorbing compounds in pollen, ranging from 8 to 28 days. Our results demonstrate an overall positive relationship between para-coumaric acid and UV-B radiation, best described by applying a UV-B-accumulation period spanning 12-19 days. However, we also show clear evidence for population-level factors influencing this relationship across the study locations. Synthesis. Our multidisciplinary approach, which combines expertise from palaeoecology, plant physiology and atmospheric physics, provides clear evidence that pollen-grain chemistry is subject to population-level variations. We suggest that quantitative reconstructions of long-term changes in springtime UV-B radiation are still achievable using fossil reconstructions, but only with careful consideration of the factors leading to pollen representation in sediments. Future improvements are dependent on mechanistic understanding of the local factors which mediate the UV-B response across different populations, and on upscaling knowledge at the plant level to incorporate longer-term chemical variations represented within sediment samples.