Lichens as Bioindicators of Air Quality
Geiser, Linda .
The evolving role of lichens in air quality protection on public lands—some examples from the western United States.
THE Clean Air Act mandates that, to protect air quality in national wildernesses, parks, and refuges, federal land managers monitor harmful pollutants, sensitive resources, and participate in new source reviews and other decision-making processes. In the 1970s-1980s, lichen monitoring was novel and inspired numerous experimental, mostly stand-alone, baseline studies of sulfur dioxide on public lands. Today’s managers are concerned about a myriad of fertilizing, acidifying, oxidizing, and toxic inorganic and organic pollutants. Experience has shown that multiple, corroborating lines of evidence usually offer the most convincing proof of air pollution presence, sources, and effects, and that, to affect change, integrated evidence must be actively shared in scientific, regulatory, and public arenas. I report three examples of Forest Service efforts to integrate lichen monitoring with other monitoring, modeling and emissions data. In each case, news and scientific reports from these public studies have sparked state-wide public debate and led to collaborative problem-solving with regulators, policy-makers, and stakeholders to reduce air pollution. • In the Columbia River Gorge, 10-year lichen monitoring indicated increasing nitrogen, stable sulfur, and decreasing lead deposition and delineated problem areas. Emissions modeling, wet deposition and airborne particulate chemistry quantified and apportioned pollution between agricultural-industrial Columbia Basin sources and Portland urban sources. As a result, a major polluter has volunteered to work with the States to reduce emissions. • In Hells Canyon, lichen, dry deposition, airborne particulate, water chemistry and wind trajectory data, implicated re-volatilization of ammonia from the eutrophied Snake River and regional atmospheric transport in elevated nitrogen deposition. Results are affecting dam re-licensing processes. • The Western Airborne Contaminants Assessment Program is integrating chemical and physiological analyses of lichens, water, snow, sediments, conifer needles, fish, and moose to evaluate risks to national park and wilderness ecosystems from persistent and current organic agricultural and industrial pollutants.
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US Forest Service national lichens and air quality website
US Forest Service National Air Resource Management website
1 - Pacific Northwest Region Air Program, Siuslaw National Forest, 4077 SW Research Way, Corvallis, Oregon, 97339, USA
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Date: Tuesday, August 1st, 2006
Time: 11:15 AM