Ecophysiological variability of Alnus viridis (chaix) DC. green alder leaves in the bieszczady mountains (Poland).
Alnus viridis (Chaix) DC., green alder, is a fast-growing shrub that grows expansively in the European mountainside. In Poland, A. viridis naturally occurs only in the Bieszczady Mountains (south-eastern part of the country), above the upper forest border. In this study, we assessed the potential of green alder to expand in post-farming areas in the Bieszczady Mountains. We investigated the effects of topographical, climatic, and edaphic characteristics of four various study sites on the physiological and morphological properties of A. viridis leaves in order to answer the question whether the growth of plants in lower positions improves their physiological condition to such an extent that it increases the species invasiveness. This is the first comprehensive ecophysiological study of this species to be carried out in this part of Europe. The photochemical efficiency of PSII, the chlorophyll content, and leaf 13C and 15N discrimination were analyzed. On the basis of leaf radiation reflection, coefficients such as reflectance indices of anthocyanins, carotenoids, flavonoids (ARI2, CRI1, FRI), photochemical index of reflection (PRI), and the water band index (WBI) were calculated. We observed favorable physiological effects in A. viridis plants growing in locations below the upper forest border compared to plants growing in higher locations. As a result, A. viridis may become an invasive species and disturb the phytocoenotic balance of plant communities of the altitudinal zones in the Polish Western Carpathians.