Lichens and air pollution

Thousands of books, reviews, reports and papers have been published worldwide on lichens as monitors of air quality. The British Lichen Society publishes updates to this literature in "Literature on air pollution and lichens" in The Lichenologist. In addition, The American Bryological and Lichenological Society publishes "Recent Literature on Lichens" in The Bryologist, and a complete searchable database is maintained online by the University of Oslo. This contains most literature on lichen biomonitoring studies.

Literature cited in this study

References to papers cited in this study are provided here. This includes many published studies of lichen biomonitoring, especially those done in the Washington, D.C. region.

Bargagli, R., Iosco, F.P., Barghigiani, C. 1987. Assessment of mercury dispersal in an abandoned mining area by soil and lichen analysis. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 36: 219-225.

Bargagli, R., Barghigiani, C. 1991. Lichen biomonitoring of mercury emission and deposition in mining, geothermal and volcanic areas in Italy. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 16: 265-275.

Bargagli, R., Barghigiani, C., Siegel, B.Z., Siegel, S.M. 1989. Accumulation of mercury and other metals by the lichen, Parmelia sulcata, at an Italian minesite and a volcanic area. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 45: 315-327.

Bennett, J.P. 2002. Algal layer ratios as indicators of air pollutatnt effects in Parmelia sulcata. Bryologist 105: 104-110.

Bennett, J.P., Wetmore, C.M. 1999. Geothermal elements in lcihens of Yellowstone National Park, USA. Environmental and Experimental Botany 42: 191-200.

Blett, T., Geiser, L., Porter, L. 2003. Air pollution-related lichen monitoring in national parks, forests, and refuges: guidelines for studies intended for regulatory and management purposes. NPS D2292, National Park Service. Online at:

Bylinska, E.A., Marczonek, A., Seaward, M.R.D. 1991. Mercury accumulation in various components of a forest ecosystem influenced by factory emissions. In: ztrk, M.S., Erdem, ., Grk, G. (eds.) Urban Ecology. Ege University Press, Bornova, Turkey. 

Chilton, R., Orvos, D. 2004. Bioaccumulation of mercury in lichen (Hypogymnia physodes) near a coal-fired power plant. Southeastern Biology 51: 151-152.

Davies, F., Notcutt, G. 1996. Biomonitoring of atmospheric mercury in the vicinity of Kilauea, Hawaii. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 86: 275-281.

Davis, D.D., McClenahen, J.R., Hutnik, R.J. 2002. Selection of a biomonitor to evaluate mercury levels in forests of Pennsylvania. Norheastern Naturalist 9: 183-192.

de Wit, A. 1976. Epiphytic lichens and air pollution in the Netherlands. Bibliotheca Lichenologica 5: 1-115.

Dongarra, G., Varrica, D. 1998. The presence of heavy metals in air particulate at Vulcano island (Italy). Science of the Total Environment 212: 1-9.

Garty, J. 2000. Environment and elemental content of lichens. In: Markert, B. and Friese, K. (eds.). Trace elements: their distribution and effects in the environment. Elsevier Science B.V., p. 245-276.

Garty, J. 2001. Biomonitoring atmospheric heavy metals with lichens: theory and application. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 20: 309-371.

Geiser, L.H., S.E. Jovan, D.A. Glavich, M.K. Porter. 2010. Lichen-based critical loads for atmospheric nitrogen deposition in Western Oregon and Washington forests, USA. Environmental Pollution 158: 2412-2421.

Geiser, L., R. Reynolds. 2002. Using lichens as indicators of air quality on federal lands. Workshop held Oct. 2-3, 2001. Arizona State University, Tempe. AZ. Workshop Report. USFS Pacific Northwest Region, General Technical Report R6-NR-AG-TP-01-02.

Grasso, M.F., Clocchiatti, R., Carrot, F., Deschamps, C., Vurro, F. 1999. Lichens as bioindicators in volcanic areas: Mt. Etna and Vulcano Island (Italy). Environmental Geology 37: 207-217.

Gries, C. 1996. Lichens as indicators of air pollution. Pp. 240-254 In Nash, T.H. III, ed. Lichen Biology. Cambridge Univ. Press, N.Y.

Hale, M.E., Jr. 1970. Single-lobe growth-rate patterns in the lichen Parmelia caperata. Bryologist 73: 72-81.

Hale, M.E., Jr. 1972. Natural history of Plummers Island, Maryland. XXI. Infestations of the lichen Parmelia baltimorensis Gyel. & For. by Hypogastrura packardi Folsom (Collembola). Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 85: 287-295.

Hale, M.E., Jr., Lawrey, J.D. 1985. Annual rate of lead accumulation in the lichen Pseudoparmelia baltimorensis. Bryologist 88: 5-7.

Hawksworth, D.L. and Rose, F. 1970. Qualitative scale for estimating sulphur dioxide air pollution in England and Wales using spiphytic lichens. Nature 227: 145-148.

Hyvrinen, M., Soppela, P., Halonen, P., Kauppi, M. 1993. A review of fumigation experiments on lichens. Aquilo Ser. Bot. 32: 21-31.

Insarova, I.D.,G.E. Insarov, S.Brakenhielm, S. Hultengren, P.O. Martinsson, and S.M. Semenov. 1992. Lichen Sensitivity and Air Pollution - A Review of Literature Data. 150 Report 4007, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Uppsala.

Kinsman, J.D. 1990. Lichens as biomonitors of sulfur, nitrogen, and metals at Whitetope Mountain in soutwest Virginia. M.S. Thesis, George Mason University.

Lawrey, J.D. 1985. Lichens as lead and sulfur monitors in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Contraact CX-0001-1-0114/PX-0001-4-1128. U.S. National Park Service, Air Quality Division.

Lawrey, J.D. 1991. The species-area curve as an index of disturbance in saxicolous lichen communities. Bryologist 94: 377-382.

Lawrey, J.D. 1992. Natural and randomly-assembled lichen communities compared using the species-area curve. Bryologist 95: 137-141.

Lawrey, J.D. 1993. Lichens as monitors of pollutant elements at permanent sites in Maryland and Virginia. Bryologist 96: 339-341.

Lawrey, J.D. 1993. Lichen biomonitoring program in the Dolly Sods and Otter Creek Wildernesses of the Monongahela National Forest: a resurvey of lichen floristics and elemental status. USDA Forest Service Challenge Cost Share Agreement 21-007605.

Lawrey, J.D., Hale, M.E., Jr. 1977. Natural history of Plummers Island, Maryland. XXIII. Studies on lichen growth rate at Plummers Island, Maryland. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 90: 698-725.

Lawrey, J.D., Hale, M.E., Jr. 1979. Lichen growth responses to stress induced by automobile exhaust pollution. Science 204: 423-424.

Lawrey, J.D., Hale, M.E., Jr. 1981. Retrospective study of lichen lead accumulation in the northeastern United States. Bryologist 84: 449-456.

Lawrey, J.D., Hale, M.E., Jr. 1988. Lichen evidence for changes in atmospheric pollution in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Bryologist 91: 21-23.

LeBlanc, F. and De Sloover, J. 1970. Relation between industrialization and the distribution and growth of epiphytic lichens and mosses in Montreal. Canadian Journal of Botany 48: 1485-1496.

Leonard, E.C., Killip, E.P. 1939. Natural history of Plummers Island, Maryland. VIII. Lichens. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 52: 23-26.

Loppi, S. 1996. Lichens as bioindicators of geothermal air pollution in central Italy. Bryologist 99: 41-48.

Loppi, S., Bonini, I. 2000. Lichens and mosses as biomonitors of trace elements in areas with thermal springs and fumarole activity (Mt. Amiata, central Italy). Chemosphere 41: 1333-1336.

Makholm, M.M., Bennett, J.P. 1998. Mercury accumulation in transplanted Hypogymnia physodes lichens downwind of Wisconsin chlor-alkali plant. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 102: 427-436.

Marti, J. 1983. Sensitivity of lichen phycobionts to dissolvved air pollutants. Canadian Journal of Botany 61: 1647-1653.

Marti, J. 1985. Die Toxizitat von Zink, Schwefel- und Stickstoffverbindungen auf Flechten-Symbionten. Bibliotheca Lichenologica 21. J. Cramer, Vaduz. 129 p.

McCune, B. 2000. Lichen communities as indicators of forest health. Bryologist 103: 353-356.

McCune, B., Dey, J., Peck, J., Heiman, K., Will-Wolf, S. 1997. Regional gradients in lichen communities of the southeast United States. Bryologist 100: 145-158.

McCune, B., Dey, J.P, Peck, J.E., Cassell, D., Heiman, K., Will-Wolf, S., Neitlich, P.N. 1997. Repeatability of community data: species richness versus gradient scores in large-scale lichen studies. Bryologist 100: 40-46.

McCune, B. and Geiser, L. 1997. Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest. OSU Press, Corvallis, OR.

McCune, B., Grenon, J., Martin, E. 2006. Lichens in relation to management issues in the Sierra Nevada National Parks. Cooperative agreement No. CA9088A0008, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Three Rivers, CA. 45 p.

Nash, T.H. III, 1989. Metal tolerance in lichens. In: Shaw, A.J. (ed.) Heavy metal tolerance in plants: evolutionary aspects. CRC Press, Boca Raton. Pp 119-131.

Nash, T.H. III., ed. 1996. Lichen Biology. Cambridge Univ. Press, N.Y.

Nash, T.H. III and Gries, C. 2002. Lichens as bioindicators of sulfur dioxide. Symbiosis 33: 1-22.

Nash, T.H. III, Wirth, V. 1988. Lichens, bryophytes and air quality. Biblio. Lichenol. 30: 1-297.

Nimis, P.L., Scheidegger, C., Wolseley, P.A., eds. 2002. Monitoring with lichens--monitoring lichens. NATO Science Series, IV. Earth and Environmental Sciences--Vol. 7. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 408 pp.

Peterson, J., Schmoldt, D., Peterson, D., Eilers, J., Fisher, R., and Bachman, R. 1992. Guidelines for Evaluating Air pollution Impacts on Class I Wilderness Areas in the Pacific Northwest. USDA-Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station General Technical Report PNW-GTR-299,

Richardson, D.H.S. 1992. Pollution monitoring with lichens. Naturalists' Handbooks 19. Richmond Publishing Co., Ltd. Slough, England. 76 p.

Robbins, C.A., Blake, S.F. 1931. Cladonia in the District of Columbia and vicinity. Rhodora 33: 145-159.

Schutte, J.A. 1977. Chromium in two corticolous lichens from Ohio and West Virginia. Bryologist 80: 279-283.

Schwartzman, D.W., Kasim, M., Stieff, L., Johnson, J.H, Jr. 1987. Quantitative monitoring of airborne lead pollution by a foliose lichen. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 32: 363.

Schwartzman, D.W., Stieff, L., Kasim, M., Kombe, E., Aung, S., Atekwana, E., Johnson, J., Jr., Schwartzman, K. 1991. An ion-exchange model of lead-210 and lead uptake in a foliose lichen: application to quantitative monitoring of airborne lead fallout. Science of the Total Environment 100: 319-336.

Sigal, L.L. and Nash, T.H. III. 1983. Lichen communities on conifers in southern California: an ecological survey relative to oxidant air pollution. Ecology 64:1343-1354.

Steinnes, E., Krog, H. 1977. Mercury, arsenic and selenium fall-out from an industrial complex studied by means of lichen transplants. Oikos 28: 160-164.

Stolte, K., Mangis, D., Doty, R., Tonnessen, K., Huckaby, L., ed. 1993. Lichens as bioindicators of air quality. General Technical Report RM-224. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO.131 pages.

van Dobben, H.F. and ter Braak, C.J.F. 1999. Ranking of epiphytic lichen sensitivity to air pollution using survey data: a comparison of indicator scales. Lichenologist 31: 27-39.

Wetmore, C.1983. Lichens of the Air Quality Class1 National Parks. National Park Services Contract CX 0001-2-0034. USA:NPS. 158 pages.

Wirth, V. 1991. Zeigerwerte von Flechten. Scripta Geobotanica 18: 215-237.



Study sites

Study methods

Summary data

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