Navigation Links
Lichens function as indicators of nitrogen pollution in forests

Scientists have found lichens can give insight into nitrogen air pollution effects on Sierra Nevada and San Bernardino mountain ecosystems, and protecting them provides safeguards for less sensitive species.

Their findings are presented this month in the international journal Environmental Pollution and are significant because nitrogen from air pollution causes detrimental chemical and biological effects to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Other harmful effects include elevated nitrate concentrations in streams and groundwater, and weakened California forests more susceptible to bark beetle infestations and fires.

The U.S. Forest Service funded the study, which included the agency's own researchers working with scientists at the University of Arizona and Spain's National Research Center for Energy, Environment and Technology.

According to the scientists, nitrogen pollution that has virtually eliminated lichen species in the Los Angeles Basin and San Bernardino Mountains is now exceeding critical loads over much of the Western Sierra Nevada as far north as Lake Tahoe. Other areas in corridors of polluted air such as the Central Valley are also exceeding nitrogen critical loads.

"Publicity surrounds the carbon cycle and its effects on the environment, but humans have altered the global nitrogen cycle to a greater degree," said Mark Fenn, a Forest Service plant pathologist and one of the study's authors. "There are now significant changes in lichen indicator groups because nitrogen critical loads are being exceeded over much of California."

Scientists involved in the research studied 24 mixed-conifer forest sites exposed to a wide range of atmospheric nitrogen deposition and monitored adverse changes in lichens, among the most sensitive biological indicators of nitrogen effects.

The result is a useful tool for determining critical loads and preventing broader impacts to forests. Protecting lichens also has inherent value because of their complex hydrological, nutrient cycling, wildlife forage and nesting material roles.

"Quantifying nitrogen critical loads helps land managers determine the point at which unacceptable impacts occur to sensitive ecosystems," Fenn said. "This helps bring air quality management that is more firmly rooted in ecosystem protection."

The United Nations' International Cooperative Program on Effects of Air Pollution on Natural Vegetation and Crops has led the largest effort to quantify nitrogen critical loads. Similar coordinated efforts do not exist in the United States. But, U.S. research in critical loads is increasing.


Contact: Roland Giller
US Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station

Related biology news :

1. Technical report explores role of lichens as bioindicators
2. Iron-moving malfunction may underlie neurodegenerative diseases, aging
3. US Air Force technology helps scientists understand plant root function
4. New insights into the regulation of PTEN tumor suppression function
5. Ikaria(R) Receives FDA Orphan Drug Designation for Inhaled Carbon Monoxide for Delayed Graft Function in Solid Organ Transplants
6. In scientific first, Einstein researchers correct decline in organ function associated with old age
7. GIANT-Coli: A novel method to quicken discovery of gene function
8. Chronic exposure to estrogen impairs some cognitive functions
9. Ikaria(R) Receives FDA Orphan Drug Designation for Inhaled Carbon Monoxide for Delayed Graft Function in Solid Organ Transplants
10. Researchers analyze how new anti-MRSA abtibiotics function
11. UCLA researchers clarify function of glucose transport molecule
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/20/2015)... NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the ... mobile commerce market and creator of the Wocket® smart ... recently interviewed on The RedChip Money Report ... on Bloomberg Europe , Bloomberg Asia, Bloomberg Australia, ... NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a biometric authentication ...
(Date:11/18/2015)... -- As new scientific discoveries deepen our understanding of how ... face challenges in better using that knowledge to guide ... more children continue to survive pediatric cancer, that counseling ... John M. Maris, M.D ., a pediatric ... . --> John M. Maris, M.D ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... 2015 Paris , ... --> Paris , qui s,est tenu ... le leader de l,innovation biométrique, a inventé le premier ... empreintes sur la même surface de balayage. Jusqu,ici, deux ... pour les empreintes digitales. Désormais, un seul scanner est ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: HALO ) will be ... York on Wednesday, December 2 at 9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 ... CEO, will provide a corporate overview. th Annual ... 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . Jim Mazzola , ... corporate overview. --> th Annual Oppenheimer Healthcare Conference ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... QUEBEC CITY , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - ... the request of IIROC on behalf of the Toronto ... this news release there are no corporate developments that ... price. --> --> ... --> . --> Aeterna Zentaris ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), led by its Executive ... Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View (FPV) racing community. , FPV racing ... this type of racing and several new model aviation pilots have joined the community ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... CITY , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - ... "Company") announced today that the remaining 11,000 post-share ... Share Purchase Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") subject ... were exercised on November 23, 2015, which will ... Shares.  After giving effect to the issuance of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: