• The use of lichens as indicators of ambient air quality in Southern Ontario

      Tulumello, Patricia; Department of Earth Sciences (Brock University, 2011-03-08)
      The inverse relationship between arboreal lichen species richness and sulphur dioxide in ambient air has been thoroughly documented in the literature. Previous work in southern Ontario has shown that lichen bioindication can identify areas of potential concern regarding air quality. The EMAN suite of l i chens was applied in the City of Samia by surveying 458 Sugar Maple trees, in order to test the applicability of lichen bioindication under conditions of high mean S02 levels and high species richness values. The results of the survey were explored using Geographic Information Systems. A spatial relationship between lichen community variables, the Bluewater Bridge and the highway was identified. Lichen species richness, lichen percent cover and Index of Atmospheric Purity values were higher along the bridge and highway. No strong gradients were found between other known pollution sources and no lichen deserts were identified. The most common community grouping consisted of Physcia millegrana Degel, Candelaria concolor (Dicks) B. Stein, Physcia aipolia (Ehrh ex Humb.) Furnrohr; all of which are known nitrophytes. The relationship between substrate pH and lichen species richness was examined. Sites with a known source of anthropogenic chemical contamination were found to have a correlation of l=0.8 between lichen species richness and pH. The inverse was found for sites with no known source of contamination with a correlation of r 2 =-0.72. The findings suggest that species richness may be influenced by altering substrate pH which promotes the growth of nitrophytic species capable of tolerating high S02 levels.