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

  • Sarah Jovan
  • Bruce Mccune


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 (r 2 = 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.


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


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aber, J. D., Nadelhoffer, K. J., Steudler, P. and Melillo, J. M.: 1989, ‘Nitrogen saturation in northern forest ecosystems’, BioScience 39, 378–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asman, W. A. H. and van Jaarsveld, J. A.: 1992, ‘A variable-resolution transport model applied for NHx for Europe’, Atmos. Environ. 26, 445–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bailey, R. G.: 1983, ‘Delineation of ecosystem regions’, Environ Manage. 7, 365–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barkman, J. J.: 1958, Phytosociology and Ecology of Cryptogamic Epiphytes, Van Gorcum, Assen, Germany, pp. 628.Google Scholar
  5. Baum, M. M., Kiyomiya, E. S., Kumar, S., Lappas, A. and Lord, H., III: 2000, ‘Multicomponent remote sensing of vehicle exhaust by dispersive absorption spectroscopy. 1. Effect of fuel type and catalyst performance.’ Environ. Sci. Technol. 34, 2851–2858.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Benfield, B.: 1994, ‘Impact of agriculture on epiphytic lichens at Plymtree, east Devon’, Lichenologist 26, 91–94.Google Scholar
  7. Blanchard, C. L. and Michaels, H.: 1994, ‘Regional Estimates of Acid Deposition Fluxes in California’, Final Report No.A132–149. Air Resources Board, Sacramento, California, USA, pp. 98.Google Scholar
  8. Bowman, A. W. and Azzalini, A.: 1997, ‘Applied Smoothing Techniques for Data Analysis’, Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK, pp. 204.Google Scholar
  9. Bytnerowicz, A. and Fenn, M.: 1996, ‘Nitrogen deposition in California forests: a review’, Environ. Pollut. 92, 127–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bytnerowicz, A. and Riechers, G.: 1995, ‘Nitrogenous air pollutants in a mixed conifer stand of the western Sierra Nevada, California’, Atmos. Environ. 29, 1369–1377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bytnerowicz, A., Tausz, M., Alonso, R., Jones, D., Johnson, R. and Grulke, N.: 2002, ‘Summer-time distribution of air pollutants in Sequoia National Park, California’, Environ. Pollut. 118, 187–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cahill, T. A., Carroll, J. J., Campbell, D. and Gill, T. E.: 1996, ‘Chapter 48: Air Quality,’ in Status of the Sierra Nevada, U.S. Geological Survey Digital Data Series, Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project, Final Report to Congress, vol. II., University of California Centers for Water and Wildland Resources, Davis, CA, USA, pp. 1227–1261.
  13. California Air Resources Board: 1999, ‘Estimates of Ammonia Emissions from Beef and Dairy Cattle in California’, Review draft, Planning and Technical Support Division, California Air Resources Board, Sacramento, CA, USA, pp. 42.Google Scholar
  14. California Environmental Protection Agency: 2000, ‘Atmospheric Acidity Protection Program: Final Assessment’, Report, California Air Resources Board, Sacramento, CA, USA, pp. 37.
  15. Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources Air Quality Research Subcommittee: 2000, ‘Atmospheric Ammonia: Sources and Fate; a Review of Ongoing Federal Research and Future Needs’, Air Quality Research Subcommittee Meeting Report, NOAA Aeronomy Laboratory, Boulder, CO, USA, pp. 19.Google Scholar
  16. Daly, C., Neilson, R. P. and Phillips, D. L.: 1994, ‘A statistical-topographic model for mapping climatological precipitation over mountainous terrain’, J. Appl. Meteorol. 33, 140–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Daly, C., Taylor, G. H., Gibson, W. P., Parzybok, T. W., Johnson, G. L. and Pasteris, P.: 2001, ‘High-quality spatial climate data sets for the United States and beyond’, T. A.S.A.E. 43, 1957–1962.Google Scholar
  18. Daly, C., Gibson, W. P., Taylor, G. H., Johnson, G. L. and Pasteris, P.: 2002, ‘A knowledge-based approach to the statistical mapping of climate’, Climate Res. 22, 99–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. De Bakker, A. J.: 1989, ‘Effects of ammonia emission on epiphytic lichen vegetation’, Acta Bot. Neerl. 38, 337–342.Google Scholar
  20. Esslinger, T. L.: 2000, ‘A key for the lichen genus Physconia in California, with descriptions for three new species occurring within the state’, Bulletin of the California Lichen Society 7, 1–6.Google Scholar
  21. Fenn, M. E., Poth, M. A., Bytnerowicz, A., Sickman, J. O. and Takemoto, B. K.: 2003, ‘Effects of ozone, nitrogen deposition, and other stressors on montane ecosystems in the Sierra Nevada’, in A. Bytnerowicz, M. J. Arbaugh and R. Alonso (ed.) Ozone Air Pollution in the Sierra Nevada–Distribution and Effects on Forests, Elsevier Science Ltd., Oxford, UK, pp. 111–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gilbert, O. L.: 1976, ‘An alkaline dust effect on epiphytic lichens’, Lichenologist 8, 173–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jassby, A. D., Reuter, J. E., Axler, R. P., Goldman, C. R. and Hackley, S. H.: 1994, ‘Atmospheric deposition of nitrogen and phosphorus in the annual nutrient load of Lake Tahoe (California-Nevada)’, Water Resour. Res. 30, 2207–2216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jovan, S. and McCune, B.: 2004, ‘Regional variation in epiphytic macrolichen communities in northern and central California forests’, The Bryologist 107, 328–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jovan, S. and McCune, B.: 2005, ‘Bioindication of Air Pollution in the Greater Central Valley of California, U.S.A. with Epiphytic Macrolichen Communities’, Ecol. Appl.: in press.Google Scholar
  26. Krupa, S. V.: 2003, ‘Effects of atmospheric ammonia (NH3) on terrestrial vegetation: a Review’, Environ. Pollut. 124, 179–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kruskal, J. B.: 1964, ‘Non-metric multidimensional scaling: a numerical method’, Psychometrika 29, 115–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lindblom, L.: 1997, ‘The genus Xanthoria (Fr.) Th. Fr. in North America’, Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory 83, 75–172.Google Scholar
  29. Loppi, S. and Pirintsos, S. A.: 2000, ‘Effect of dust on epiphytic lichen vegetation in the Mediterranean area (Italy and Greece)’, Israel Journal of Plant Science 48, 91–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McCune, B. and Geiser, L.: 1997, ‘Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest’, Oregon State University Press and U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Corvallis, OR, USA, pp. 386.Google Scholar
  31. McCune, B. and Grace, J. B.: 2002, ‘Analysis of Ecological Communities’, MjM Software, Gleneden Beach, OR, USA, pp. 300.Google Scholar
  32. McCune, B. and Mefford, M. J.: 1999, ‘Multivariate Analysis on the PC-ORD System’, Version 4, MjM Software, Gleneden Beach, OR, USA.Google Scholar
  33. McCune, B. and Mefford, M. J.: 2004, ‘Hyperniche. Nonparametric Multiplicative Habitat Modeling’, Version 1.00.60 beta, MjM Software, Gleneden Beach, OR, USA.Google Scholar
  34. McCune, B., Rogers, P., Ruchty, A. and Ryan, B.: 1998, ‘Lichen communities for forest health monitoring in Colorado, USA’, Report to the USDA Forest Service, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA, pp. 30.Google Scholar
  35. McCune, B., Dey, J. P., Peck, J. E., Cassell, D., Heiman, K., Will-Wolf, S. and Neitlich, P. N.: 1997, ‘Repeatability of community data: species richness versus gradient scores in large-scale lichen studies’, The Bryologist 100, 40–46.Google Scholar
  36. Messer, J.J., Linthurst, R.A. and Overton, W.S.: 1991, ‘An EPA program for monitoring ecological status and trends’, Environ. Monit. Assess. 17, 67–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Moberg, R.:2002, ‘Physcia’, in T. H. Nash III, B. D. Ryan, C. Gries and F. Bungartz (ed.) Lichen Flora of the Greater Sonoran Desert Region I, Lichens Unlimited, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA, pp. 358–373.Google Scholar
  38. Momsen, J. H.: 2001, ‘Agriculture in the Sierra’, in Status of the Sierra Nevada, U.S. Geological Survey Digital Data Series, Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project, Final Report to Congress, vol. II., University of California Centers for Water and Wildland Resources, Davis, CA, USA, pp. 497–528.
  39. National Park Service: 2000, ‘Final Yosemite Valley Plan, Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement’, Online report, National Park Service, Yosemite National Park, CA, USA.
  40. Neitlich, P., Rogers, P. and Rosentreter, R.: 2003, ‘Lichen Communities Indicator Results from Idaho: Baseline Sampling, General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-103, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO, USA, pp. 14.Google Scholar
  41. Peterson, J., Schmoldt, D., Peterson, D., Eilers, J., Fisher, R. and Bachman, R.: 1992, ‘Guidelines for evaluating air pollution impacts on class I wilderness areas in the pacific northwest’, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-299, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR, USA, pp. 83.Google Scholar
  42. Pierson, W. R. and Brachaczek, W. W.: 1983, ‘Particulate Matter Associated with Vehicles on the Road. II.’, Aerosol Sci. Tech. 2, 1–40.Google Scholar
  43. Potter, C., Krauter, C. and Klooster, S. 2001. Statewide Inventory Estimates of Ammonia Emissions from Native Soils and Chemical Fertilizers in California. Final report for Contract # ID: 98-716, California Air Resources Board, Sacramento, CA, USA, 96 pp. Scholar
  44. SPSS for Windows’, Rel. 11.0.1: 2001, SPSS Inc., Chicago, Il, USA.Google Scholar
  45. Takemoto, B. K., Bytnerowicz, A. and Fenn, M. E.: 2001, ‘Current and future effects of ozone and atmospheric nitrogen deposition on California's mixed conifer forests’, Forest Ecol. Manag. 144, 159–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Takemoto, B. K., Croes, B. E., Brown, S. M., Motallebi, N., Westerdahl, F. D., Margolis, H. G., Cahill, B. T., Mueller, M. D. and Holmes, J. R.: 1995, ‘Acidic deposition in California: findings from a program of monitoring and effects research’, Water Air Soil Pollut. 85, 261–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. University of California SNEP Science Team and Special Consultants:1996, ‘Chapter 2: People and Resource Use’, in Status of the Sierra Nevada, U.S. Geological Survey Digital Data Series, Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project, Final Report to Congress, vol. I., University of California Centers for Water and Wildland Resources, Davis, CA, USA, pp. 17–45.
  48. Van Dobben, H. F.: 1983, ‘Changes in the epiphytic lichen flora and vegetation in the surroundings of Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands) since 1900’, Nova Hedwigia 37, 691–719.Google Scholar
  49. Van Dobben, H. F. and de Bakker, A. J.: 1996, ‘Re-mapping of lichen biodiversity in The Netherlands: effects of decreasing SO2 and increasing NH3’, Acta Bot. Neerl. 45, 55–71.Google Scholar
  50. Van Dobben, H. F. and ter Braak, C. 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
  51. Van Haluwyn, C. and van Herk, C. M.: 2002, ‘Bioindication: the community approach’, in P. L. Nimis, C. Scheidegger, and P. A. Wolseley (ed) Monitoring with Lichens-monitoring lichens, IV. Earth and Environmental Sciences vol. 7, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, the Netherlands, pp. 39–64.Google Scholar
  52. Van Herk, C. M.: 1999, ‘Mapping of ammonia pollution with epiphytic lichens in the Netherlands’, Lichenologist 31, 9–20.Google Scholar
  53. Van Herk, C. M.: 2001, ‘Bark pH and susceptibility to toxic air pollutants as independent causes of changes in epiphytic lichen composition in space and time’, Lichenologist 33, 419–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Van Herk, C. M., Mathijssen-Spiekman, E. A. M., de Zwart, D.: 2003, ‘Long distance nitrogen air pollution effects on lichens in Europe’, Lichenologist 35, 347–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations