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Evaluating the impact of individual leaf traits on atmospheric particulate matter accumulation using natural and synthetic leaves

Weerakkody, Udeshika, DOVER, John, MITCHELL, Paul and REILING, Kevin (2018) Evaluating the impact of individual leaf traits on atmospheric particulate matter accumulation using natural and synthetic leaves. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 30. pp. 98-107. ISSN 1618-8667

Weerakkody et al. 2018 Leaf traits. Accepted MS.pdf - AUTHOR'S ACCEPTED Version (default)
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Abstract or description

The ability of vegetation to capture and retain atmospheric Particulate Matter (PM) is directly dependent on the interactions between PM and plant surfaces. However, the impact of individual leaf traits in this respect is still under debate due to variations in published findings. This study employed standardised experimental designs with natural and synthetic leaves in three experiments to explore the impact of individual leaf traits on traffic-generated PM accumulation whilst other influential variables were controlled. The impact of leaf size on PM deposition was explored using synthetic leaves of different sizes (small, medium and large) but with the same shape and surface characteristics (n = 20 for each category). The impact of leaf shape was examined using another set of synthetic leaves of different shape (elliptical, palmately-lobed and linear) but with the same surface area and the same surface characteristics (n = 20 for each category). PM accumulation (PM1, PM2.5 and PM10) on these leaves was quantified using an Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope (ESEM) and ImageJ software. Any differences in PM capture levels due to leaf size and leaf shape were identified using one-way Anova and Tukey’s pairwise comparison. In a subsequent experiment, equal-sized, square-shaped leaf sections obtained from four plant species (n = 20 for each species) with different micromorphology were exposed to traffic-generated pollution and any PM capture differences due to leaf micromorphology identified employing the same SEM/ImageJ and statistical approach. The results of all three experiments showed significant differences in PM accumulation between different leaf sizes (p < 0.001), between different leaf shapes (p < 0.001) and between different leaf micromorphology (p < 0.001) suggesting that all these characters are influential in the capture and retention of PM on leaves. Smaller leaves and complex leaf shapes (lobed leaves) showed a greater potential to capture and retain PM. Leaf surfaces with hair/trichomes, epicuticular wax, and surface-ridges accumulated more PM compared to smooth surfaces; of these characters, leaf hairiness/presence of trichomes was found to be the most important. Species sharing most of these important leaf traits are recommended as effective PM filters.

Item Type: Article
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Biological Sciences
Depositing User: Library STORE team
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2018 14:39
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:50

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