Aerobiologia (Bologna). 2020 Sep;36(3):401-415. doi: 10.1007/s10453-020-09638-8. Epub 2020 Apr 7.
Estimates of airborne pollen concentrations at the urban scale would be useful for epidemiologists, land managers, and allergy sufferers. Mechanistic models could be well suited for this task, but their development will require data on pollen production across cities, including estimates of pollen production by individual trees. In this study, we developed predictive models for pollen production as a function of trunk size, canopy area, and height, which are commonly recorded in tree surveys or readily extracted from remote sensing data. Pollen production was estimated by measuring the number of flowers per tree, the number of anthers per flower, and the number of pollen grains per anther. Variability at each morphological scale was assessed using bootstrapping. Pollen production was estimated for the following species: Acer negundo, Acer platanoides, Acer rubrum, Acer saccharinum, Betula papyrifera, Gleditsia triacanthos, Juglans nigra, Morus alba, Platanus x acerfolia, Populus deltoides, Quercus palustris, Quercus rubra, and Ulmus americana. Basal area predicted pollen production with a mean R2 of 0.72 (range: 0.41 – 0.99), whereas canopy area predicted pollen production with a mean R2 of 0.76 (range: 0.50 – 0.99). These equations are applied to two tree datasets to estimate total municipal pollen production and the spatial distribution of street tree pollen production for the focal species. We present some of the first individual-tree based estimates of pollen production at the municipal scale; the observed spatial heterogeneity in pollen production is substantial and can feasibly be included in mechanistic models of airborne pollen at fine spatial scales.