Conifers, especially pines, produce and store under pressure monoterpene-laden resin in canals located throughout the plant. When the plants are damaged and resin canals punctured, the resin is exuded and the monoterpenes are released into the atmosphere, a process that has been shown to influence ecosystem-level monoterpene emissions. Less attention has been paid to the small amounts of resin that are exuded from branches, expanding needles, developing pollen cones, and terminal buds in the absence of any damage. The goal of this study was to provide the first estimate of the potential of this naturally-exposed resin to influence emissions of monoterpenes from ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) ecosystems. When resin is first exuded as small spherical beads from undamaged tissues it emits monoterpenes to the atmosphere at a rate that is four orders of magnitude greater than needle tissue with an equivalent exposed surface area and the emissions from exuded beads decline exponentially as the resin dries. We made measurements of resin beads on the branches of ponderosa pine trees in the middle of the growing season and found, on average, 0.15cm2 of exposed resin bead surface area and 1250cm2 of total needle surface area per branch tip. If the resin emerged over the course of 10 days, resin emissions would make up 10% of the ecosystem emissions each day. Since we only accounted for exposed resin at a single point in time, this is probably an underestimate of how much total resin is exuded from undamaged pine tissues over the course of a growing season. Our observations, however, reveal the importance of this previously unrecognized source of monoterpenes emitted from pine forests and its potential to influence regional atmospheric chemistry dynamics.
- Ecosystem scaling
- Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)