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Abstract Detail

Bryological and Lichenological Section/ABLS

Davis, William J [1], Pan, Jean [2].

Using Lichens to Look Into Akron's Polluted Past .

Lichens are ideal organisms to use in monitoring air pollution because of their differential responses to air pollution, which can allow us to predict how local lichen communities will respond to rising or falling levels of particular air pollutants. However, lichen communities are also influenced by many ecological variables, such as available light, humidity, and bark pH. Moreover, current lichen communities may still reflect responses to former air pollution conditions (i.e. high sulfur dioxide concentrations). Thus, monitoring studies need to be able to separate the responses of lichens to current air pollution from their responses to ecological variables and relic patterns of past conditions. This study examined the relationship between present day lichen communities, current abiotic conditions (light levels, humidity, bark pH), and past sulfur dioxide concentrations. Lichen communities on 111 trees in 10 study sites located throughout Akron, Ohio were surveyed, and a diversity value was calculated for each site. Light, humidity, and bark pH were measured for each tree. Historic sulfur dioxide concentrations were determined using data from the US EPA and mapped for the Akron area. Specific sulfur dioxide concentrations were extrapolated from the map for each study site and compared to contemporary air pollution values and patterns. We found that current sulfur dioxide concentrations were significantly lower than past concentrations. Contemporary air pollution was concentrated outside of Akron, whereas historically it was concentrated downtown. We found lichen diversity values at all sites that were consistent with those reported for other urban areas. However, we found a trend for sites with low historic sulfur dioxide concentrations having higher diversity values than sites with historically high sulfur dioxide. This relationship, as well as the relationship between lichen diversity and the ecological variables, was further explored using Non-Parametric Multiplicative Regression (NPMR).

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1 - The University of Akron, McNair Office, Polsky Building 451, Akron, Ohio, 44325, USA
2 - University of Akron, Biology, Auburn Science and Engineering Center 180, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, 44325, USA

air pollution
species diversity.

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for BSA Sections
Session: P1
Location: Event Tent/Cliff Lodge
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: P1BL007
Abstract ID:624