Faculty Advisor

Mark Potosnak, PhD


Biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOC) are the second-most abundant reactive gasses emitted into the atmosphere by the biosphere. Isoprene is a BVOC produced by the process of photosynthesis from vegetation and is emitted from plant leaves. Isoprene is a hydrocarbon that combines with oxides of nitrogen in the atmosphere to create ozone in the troposphere, an air pollutant. Invasive trees alter ecosystems and affect native tree populations. Invasive tree species in the Chicagoland area are outcompeting native tree species and expanding rapidly. The effect of isoprene emissions on air quality is a well-researched area in the atmospheric science community, however, the differing isoprene emission patterns between invasive and native trees in the Chicagoland area have not been studied in the literature. From the experiment, it was conclusive that there was no statistical difference in isoprene emissions between the most abundant native and invasive tree species in the same ecosystem, and hence an impact of invasive species on air quality was not demonstrated. However, it was clear that European buckthorn, invasive to Illinois, was a strong isoprene emitter.