University of Oulu

Mosses, epiphytic lichens and tree bark as biomonitors for air pollutants – specifically for heavy metals in regional surveys

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Author: Poikolainen, Jarmo1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology
2Finnish Forest Research Institute, Muhos Research Station
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2004
Publish Date: 2004-11-03
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Science, University of Oulu, for public discussion in Kuusamonsali (Auditorium YB210), Linnanmaa, on November 12th, 2004, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Doctor Ivan Suchara
Doctor Harald G. Zechmeister


The thesis consists of regional forest condition studies, using different biomonitors. Heavy metal deposition was investigated in 1985–2000 on the basis of the heavy metal concentrations (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Hg, Ni, Pb, V, Zn) in mosses in Finland. A comparison on the suitability of mosses, epiphytic lichens and pine bark as biomonitors of heavy metals was also carried. Bark was also used to study the dispersal of emissions from the Kola Peninsula into northern Finland. The occurrence of green algae on conifers in Finland was investigated in 1985 and 1995.

Regional and temporal differences were found in the heavy metal concentrations of mosses in Finland. The concentrations of most metals were the highest in southern Finland, and they decreased towards the north. Some of the major emission source had a noticeable effect on the Cu, Ni and Cr concentrations of mosses in the surroundings of the emission sources. The Pb, Cd and V concentrations decreased the most during the study period.

Mosses, lichens and bark gave a relatively similar result for heavy metal deposition in Finland. However, the comparisons indicated that mosses are better suited as biomonitors for regional surveys than epiphytic lichens, because the regional differences in heavy metal deposition were more readily reflected by concentrations in mosses than in lichens. Bark is relatively unsuitable for regional surveys due to the small range of variation in the concentrations.

Emissions from the Kola Peninsula had a clear effect on the sulphur and heavy metal concentrations of pine bark. The concentrations in bark were at very high levels close to the smelters, but they rapidly decreased on moving towards the west. The effects of emissions were still clearly visible in north-eastern Lapland.

There was strong increase in the abundance of green algae on conifers in southern and central Finland during the period 1985–1995. The increase is probably due to following factors: climate warming, and an increase in nitrogen and a decrease in sulphur in their habitats.

Half of each biomonitor sample collected in the surveys has been stored in the specimen bank at Paljakka. The storage of samples offers advantages for monitoring purposes. The availability of long-term sample series makes it possible to construct retrospective time series of the pollutants. The specimen bank is to be further developed in the future by establishing a reputation as a storage facility for samples related to forest ecosystems.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. A, Scientiae rerum naturalium
ISSN-E: 1796-220X
ISBN: 951-42-7479-2
ISBN Print: 951-42-7478-4
Issue: 421
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2004. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.