Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 170, Issue 1–4, pp 69–93 | Cite as

Using Epiphytic Macrolichen Communities for Biomonitoring Ammonia in Forests of the Greater Sierra Nevada, California

Article

Abstract

Chronic, excessive nitrogen deposition is potentially an important ecological threat to forests of the greater Sierra Nevada in California. We developed a model for ammonia bioindication, a major nitrogen pollutant in the region, using epiphytic macrolichens. We used non-metric multidimensional scaling to extract gradients in lichen community composition from surveys at 115 forested sites. A strong ammonia deposition gradient was detected, as evidenced by a high linear correlation with an index of ammonia indicator species conventionally known as “nitrophytes” (r = 0.93). This gradient, however, was confounded by elevation (r = −0.54). We evaluated three statistical techniques for controlling the influence of elevation on nitrophytes: simple linear regression, nonlinear regression, and nonparametric regression. We used the unstandardized residuals from nonlinear regression to estimate relative ammonia deposition at each plot, primarily because this model had the best fit (r2 = 0.33), desirable asymptotic properties, and it is easy to apply to new data. Other possible sources of noise in the nitrophyte-ammonia relationship, such as substrate pH and acidic deposition, are discussed. Lichen communities indicated relatively high deposition to forests of the southern Sierra Nevada, the Modoc Plateau, as well as in stands near urban areas. Evidence of elevated ammonia was also detected for popular recreation areas such as Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks. Lichen communities from forests in the Tahoe basin, northern Sierra Nevada, southern Cascades, and eastern Klamath Range appeared considerably less impacted. This model will be used for continual assessment of eutrophication risks to forest health in the region.

Keywords

air pollution ammonia California epiphytic lichens forest health gradients indicator species National Parks nitric acid nitrophytes non-metric multidimensional scaling Sierra Nevada 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Botany and Plant PathologyOregon State UniversityCorvallisU.S.A.

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