Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 114, Issue 1–3, pp 361–375 | Cite as

Lichen Diversity and Lichen Transplants as Monitors of Air Pollution in a Rural Area of Central Italy

  • Stefano Loppi
  • Luisa Frati


The results of a biomonitoring study carried out in the Municipality of Colle di Val d'Elsa (central Italy), using the diversity of epiphytic lichens and the accumulation of selected elements in thalli of the lichen Evernia prunastri transplanted in two urban sites are reported. The results indicate that the survey area suffers from different types of pollution. The main air pollutants are NO X and Pb. Vehicular traffic and domestic heating are the main sources of the former, and traffic and a crystal factory of the latter. Furthermore, most study area is eutrophicated due to diffuse agricultural activities and the presence of pig and sheep stockfarms.


Biomonitoring Crystal Eutrophication Lead Nitrogen oxides Traffic 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adriano, D. C.: 1986, Trace Elements in the Terrestrial Environment, Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
  2. Al-Chalabi, A. S. and Hawker, D.: 1996, ‘Retention and exchange behaviour of vehicular lead in street dusts from major roads’, Sci. Total Environ. 187, 105–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bari, A., Rosso, A., Minciardi, M. R., Troiani, F. and Piervittori, R.: 2001, ‘Analysis of heavy metals in atmospheric particulates in relation to their bioaccumulation in explanted Pseudevernia furfuracea thalli’, Environ. Monit. Assess. 69, 205–220.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Barkman, J. J.: 1958, Phytosociology and Ecology of Cryptogamic Epiphytes, Assen, Van Gorcum.Google Scholar
  5. Bettinelli, M., Spezia, S. and Bizzarri, G.: 1996, ‘Trace element determination in lichens by ICP-MS’, Atom. Spectrosc. 17, 133–141.Google Scholar
  6. Cercasov, V., Pantelică, A., Sălăgean, M., Caniglia, G. and Scarlat, A.: 2002, ‘Comparative study of the suitability of three lichen species to trace-element air monitoring’, Environ. Pollut. 119, 129–139.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Cislaghi, C. and Nimis, P. L.: 1997, ‘Lichens, air pollution and lung cancer’, Nature 387, 463–464.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Frati, L., Brunialti, G. and Loppi, S.: 2004, ‘Problems related to lichen transplants to monitor trace element deposition in repeated surveys: A case study from central Italy’, J. Atmos. Chem. in press.Google Scholar
  9. Garty, J.: 1993, ‘Lichens as Biomonitors for Heavy Metal Pollution’, in: B. Markert (ed), Plants as biomonitors. Indicators for Heavy Metals in the Terrestrial Environment, VCH, Weinheim, pp. 193–263.Google Scholar
  10. Garty, J., Ziv, O. and Eshel, A.: 1985, ‘The effect of coating polymers on accumulation of airborne heavy metals by lichens’, Environ. Pollut. 38, 213–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gilbert, O. L.: 1973, ‘ The Effect of Airborne Fluorides’, in: B. W. Ferry, M. S. Beddeley and D. L. Hawksworth (eds), Air Pollution and Lichens, Athlone Press, London, pp. 176–191.Google Scholar
  12. Gilbert, O. L.: 1976, ‘An alkaline dust effect on epiphytic lichens’, Lichenologist 8, 173–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kakulu, S. E.: 2003, ‘Trace metal concentration in roadside surface soil and tree bark: a measurement of local atmospheric pollution in Abuja, Nigeria’, Environ. Monit. Assess. 89, 233–242.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Loppi, S.: 2004, ‘Mapping the Effects of Air Pollution, Nitrogen Deposition, Agriculture and Dust by the Diversity of Epiphytic Lichens in Central Italy’, in P. Lambley, P. Wolseley (eds), Lichens in a Changing Pollution Environment, English Nature Research Reports, London, pp. 37–43.Google Scholar
  15. Loppi, S. and De Dominicis, V.: 1996, ‘Lichens as long-term biomonitors of air quality in central Italy’, Acta Bot. Neerl. 45, 563–570.Google Scholar
  16. Loppi, S. and Corsini, A.: 2003, ‘Diversity of epiphytic lichens and metal contents of Parmelia caperata thalli as monitors of air pollution in the town of Pistoia’, Environ. Monit. Assess. 86, 289–301.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Loppi, S. and Pirintsos, S. A.: 2000, ‘Effect of dust on epiphytic lichen vegetation in the Mediterranean area (Italy and Greece)’, Israel J. Plant Sci. 48, 91–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Loppi, S., Frati, L., Paoli, L., Bigagli, V., Rossetti, C., Bruscoli, C. and Corsini, A.: 2004, ‘Biodiversity of epiphytic lichens and heavy metal contents of Flavoparmelia caperata thalli as indicators of temporal variations of air pollution in the town of Montecatini Terme (central Italy)’, Sci. Total Environ. 326, 113–122.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Loppi, S., Giordani, P., Brunialti, G., Isocrono, D. and Piervittori R.: 2002a, ‘A new scale for the interpretation of lichen biodiversity values in the Tyrrhenian side of Italy’, Bibl. Lichenol. 82, 237–243.Google Scholar
  20. Loppi, S., Pacioni, G., Olivieri, N. and Di Giacomo, F.: 1998b, ‘Accumulation of trace metals in the lichen Evernia prunastri trasplanted at biomonitoring sites in central Italy’, Bryologist 101, 451–454.Google Scholar
  21. Loppi, S., Putortì, E., Signorini, C., Fommei, S., Pirintsos, S. A. and De Dominicis, V.: 1998a, ‘A retrospective study using epiphytic lichens as biomonitors of air quality: 1980 and 1996 (Tuscany, central Italy)’, Acta Oecol. 19, 405–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Manning, W. J. and Feder, W. A.: 1980, Biomonitoring Air Pollutants with Plants, Applied Science Publishers, London.Google Scholar
  23. Monaci, F., Moni, F., Lanciotti, E., Grechi, D. and Bargagli, R.: 2000, ‘Biomonitoring of airborne metals in urban environments: new tracers of vehicle emission, in place of lead’, Environ. Pollut. 107, 321–327.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Nash, T. H. and Sommerfeld, M. R.: 1981, ‘Elemental concentrations in lichens in the area of the Four Corners power plant, New Mexico’, Environ. Exp. Bot. 21, 153–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nimis, P. L.: 2003, ‘Checklist of Italian lichens 3.0’, University of Trieste, Department of Biology, IN3.0/2, available at
  26. Nimis, P. L., Scheidegger, C. and Wolseley, P.:2002, Monitoring with Lichens – Monitoring Lichens, Kluwer, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  27. Nriagu, J. O. and Nieboer, E.: 1988, Chromium in the Natural and Human Environments, John Wiley and Sons, NY.Google Scholar
  28. Perkins, D. F.: 1992, ‘Relationship between fluoride contents and loss of lichens near an aluminium works’, Water Air Soil Poll. 64, 503–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ruoss, E.: 1999, ‘How agriculture affects lichen vegetation in central Switzerland’, Lichenologist 31, 63–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Seaward, M. R. D.: 1993, ‘Lichens and sulphur dioxide air pollution: field studies’, Environ. Rev. 1, 73–91.Google Scholar
  31. Sloof, J. E.: 1995, ‘Lichens as quantitative biomonitors for atmospheric trace-elements deposition, using transplants’, Atmos. Environ. 29, 11–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sochting, U.: 1995, ‘Lichens as monitors of nitrogen deposition’, Cryptogamic Botany 5, 264–269.Google Scholar
  33. Takala, K. and Olkonnen, H.: 1981, ‘Lead content of an epiphytic lichen in the urban area of Kuopio, east central Finland’, Ann. Bot. Fenn. 18, 85–89.Google Scholar
  34. Van Dobben, H. F. and Ter Braak, J. F.:1998, ‘Effects of atmospheric NH3 on epiphytic lichens in The Netherlands: The pitfalls of biological monitoring’, Atmos. Environ. 32, 551–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Van Herk, C. M.: 1999, ‘Mapping of ammonia pollution with epiphytic lichens in The Netherlands’, Lichenologist 31, 9–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wolseley, P. and James, P.: 2002, ‘Assessing the Role of Biological Monitoring Using Lichens to Map Excessive Ammonia (NH3) Deposition in the UK’, in: Report Produced by Imperial College and The Natural History Museum ‘Effects of NO X and NH 3 on Lichen Communities and Urban Ecosystems. A Pilot Study’, London.Google Scholar
  37. Wolterbeek, H. T. and Bode, P.: 1995, ‘Strategies in sampling and sample handling in the context of large-scale plant biomonitoring surveys of trace element air pollution’, Sci. Total Environ. 176, 33–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali “G. Sarfatti”Università di SienaSienaItaly

Personalised recommendations