Biomonitoring air toxics using lichens. Linda Geiser, US Dept. of Agriculture-Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region Air Resource Management, PO Box 1148, Corvallis OR 97330 Examples from US national forests in northwestern North America What are lichens?
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Linda Geiser, US Dept. of Agriculture-Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region Air Resource Management, PO Box 1148, Corvallis OR 97330
Examples from US national forests in northwestern North America
Lichens are dual organisms consisting of a fungus and an alga+/or cyanobacterium.
* Not covered in this presentation
Red dots indicate monitoring locations where lichen community surveys and tissue analysis has been completed by the USFS Air program. In PNW forests, lichen work is co-located with the CVS (=FIA) grid.
Values for most elements had similar ranges across a wide geographic and climatic gradient: from wet, low, cool coastal forests (SIU) to dry, continental forests with wide temperature extremes (DES). Means from urban areas (URB), the Willamette Valley (VAL) and the Columbia River Gorge NSA (CRGNSA) were significantly higher.
REFERENCE: See http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/aq for provisional clean site ranges.
Distribution of sulfur concentrations for one lichen over the entire study area
Platismatia glauca element profiles, CLEAN SITES ONLY, in Oregon and Washington. n = 250. 97.5% quantiles are being used for clean site thresholds.
Biological data supported statistically selected thresholds :
*Maximum concentration of S or N (% dry weight) observed in the lichen, Platismatia glauca, where population size of the rated species >40 individuals/acre.
Examples of maps that can be made using element thresholds. Red dots indicate elevated sites.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, Skagway, Alaska
REFERENCE: Furbish, C.E., L.H. Geiser and C. Rector. 2000. Lichen-air quality pilot study for Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and the City of Skqaway, Alaska. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Natural Resources Management Program. Report released December 2000.
Mean concentrations of Al, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Pb, Ni, P, K, S, Zn in the lichen, Hypogymnia enteromorpha, were higher in Klondike Gold Rush NHP samples than Tongass National Forest samples.
Mean concentrations of Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Pb, Ni, S, Zn in all three lichen species collected at Dewey, closest to the city harbor, were higher than provisional PNW background thresholds. (Here, H. enteromorpha).
Tongass National Forest, Sitka, Alaska
REFERENCE:Geiser, LH/ Derr, CC/ Dillman, KL 1994: Air Quality Monitoring on the Tongass National Forest. Methods and Baselines Using Lichens. - USDA-Forest Service, Alaska Region Technical Bulletin 46. 85 pp.
Typical cover of lichens on
alder in the Sitka area
Lichens were absent from alder <0 .25 mi from the pulp mill
3-D view of lichen tissue concentrations in # of sd from Tongass clean sites mean (vertical axis) vs sampling site location (horizontal axes). Far right is < 1km from the pulp mill, center is Sitka city center, far left is the ferry terminal, 14 mi distant.Tongass National Forest, Sitka, Alaska
Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, Routt NF, Colorado
REFERENCE: Jackson, LL, L Geiser, T Blett, C Gries, D Haddow. 1996: Biogeochemistry of lichens and mosses in and near Mt. Zirkel wilderness, Routt National Forest, Colorado: influences of coal-fired power plant emissions. - Open-File Report, 96-295, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. 162 pp.
Mean % Sulfur and % nitrogen in the rock lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia, from Mt. Zirkel Wilderness were significantly higher than comparison sites in the central Rocky Mountains.
Stable S isotope ratios in lichens were significantly heavier in the MZW and Routt NF than at regional sites. This was consistent with a local sulfur source with a heavy isotopic signature such as would derive from the combustion of many of the marine-influenced coals in the Yampa Valley.
Pacific Northwest National Forests
Lichen tissue collections were made within 1 km of 8 NADP monitors
in Oregon and Washington (black dots on national map above).
Lichen sulfur concentrations, weighted by precipitation, accurately predicted wet deposition of sulfur to within about 0.3 kg/ha/yr.
SO4 deposition (kg/ha/year) =
-0.2474 + 0.43263 Lichen % S (precipitation weighted)
R2 = 0.876043
Prob >F = 0.0002
A map of wet deposition of sulfur in Pacific NW national forests constructed using calibrated lichen data.
A map of wet deposition of nitrogen looked similar.
1. Arctic Cs137 activities were low. Samples from the Mt. Hood Wilderness and Tongass NF-Stikine Area had highest activities.
Data from the caribou lichen, Cladina rangiferina
2. Activity decreased with increasing latitude and decreasing elevation (precip).
3.Compared to Canadian measurements 10 years ago, Cs137 activities were lower in the northern latitudes and higher in the southern latitudes
Comparison of 137Cs activities in Cladina rangiferina from coastal northwest North America in 1998 (large squares, green line) to central Canada in 1980 (Benson-Hutchinson, et al.) (small squares, red line).
Highest activities were found in histosols of the Tongass N.F. Lowest activities were found in sands of Mt. Hood Wilderness and on the Seward Peninsula.
Two lichens and two mosses were analyzed for persistent organic pollutants and metals at sites around the Pacific Rim (red pinpoints above).
ØGood indicators of deposition containing sulfur, nitrogen, metals, other elements, radionuclides and some hydrocarbons/organochlorines.
ØDemonstrates presence of contaminants in the ecosystem.
ØUseful in areas of rugged topography where modeling is inadequate.
ØUseful in remote areas—does not require electric power.
ØCan be used to map relative differences in air quality over a geographical area of interest and to track changes over time. If air pollution tolerant species are used, can map polluted areas.
ØCompliments instrument measurements and other monitoring information. Element analyses, community analyses used in combination with direct measurements or other bioindicatorscan corroborate each other, making a more convincing argument for decision-makers.