Main content area

Modelling relationships between lichen bioindicators, air quality and climate on a national scale: Results from the UK OPAL air survey

Seed, Lindsay, Wolseley, Pat, Gosling, Laura, Davies, Linda, Power, Sally A.
Environmental pollution 2013 v.182 pp. 437-447
Quercus, air, air pollution, air quality, branches, climate, ecosystems, indicator species, lichens, linear models, plant growth, pollutants, surveys, tree trunk, trees, volunteers, United Kingdom
Air pollution has many negative effects on the natural environment, from changes in plant growth patterns to loss of ecosystem function. This study uses citizen science to investigate national-scale patterns in the distribution and abundance of selected lichen species on tree trunks and branches, and to relate these to air pollution and climate. Volunteers collected data for nine lichen indicators on 19,334 deciduous trees. Submitted data provided information on species-level patterns, and were used to derive composite lichen indices. Multiple linear regression and ANCOVA were used to model the relationships between lichen response variables on Quercus spp. and pollution, climate and location. The study demonstrated significant relationships between patterns in indicator lichens and levels of N- and S-containing pollutants on trunks and twigs. The derived lichen indices show great potential as a tool to provide information on local, site-specific levels of air quality.