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Mercury accumulation in transplanted moss and lichens at high elevation sites in Quebec

Abstract

Mercury deposition was monitored at two mountain sites in Quebec using transplanted lichens and moss. The terricolous lichen species Cladina rangiferina, the epiphytic lichen species Hypogymnia physodes, and the feather moss Pleurozium schreberi were transplanted from a northern Ontario boreal site to the bases and summits of Roundtop Mountain and Mt. Tremblant in southern Quebec. After 12 months, transplants of C. rangiferina sited at the base and summit of Roundtop mountain and the summit of Mt. Tremblant showed a significant increase in mercury concentration over controls (p < 0.05). The largest difference occurred at the summit of Roundtop mountain where mercury concentration was 81.4 ± 10.9 ppb as compared to 45.6 + 10.6 ppb at the control site. No significant increases in mercury concentration in P. schreberi were seen after 12 months at any site althought trends of increase were apparent. After 20 months, further significant increases in Hg content were observed in both the terricolous lichen and the feather moss at both the Roundtop Mountain base and summit sites. A significant increase in Hg content of P. schreberi was also noted at the Mt. Tremblant summit site. Over the length of the study the greatest mercury concentration increases were observed in the feather moss at the Roundtop Mountain summit site (with a 248.3 ± 30.0 ppb mercury concentration as compared to 108.3 ± 30.0 ppb in controls). No significant change in mercury concentration in the epiphyte H. physodes was found during the study. These data indicate that mercury deposition is occurring, especially to higher elevation sites. While mercury inputs at the summits may be increased by the effects of fog, increases in mercury at the base sites cannot be accounted for the same way, but may represent the importance of dry deposition processes.

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Correspondence to Celia A. Evans.

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Evans, C.A., Hutchinson, T.C. Mercury accumulation in transplanted moss and lichens at high elevation sites in Quebec. Water Air Soil Pollut 90, 475–488 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00282663

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Key words

  • Atmospheric deposition
  • lichens
  • bryophytes
  • mercury pollution
  • acidic fogs
  • Quebec mountains