Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 250–259 | Cite as

Influence of angular exposure and proximity to vehicular traffic on the diversity of epiphytic lichens and the bioaccumulation of traffic-related elements

  • Luca Paoli
  • Silvana Munzi
  • Elisa Fiorini
  • Carlo Gaggi
  • Stefano Loppi
Research Article


This study investigated the influence of angular exposure and distance from vehicular traffic on the diversity of epiphytic lichens and the bioaccumulation of traffic-related elements in a town of central Italy. An Index of Lichen Diversity (ILD) was calculated on the street-facing and the opposite side of road-lining trees and in a urban park 250 m away, and the content of selected trace elements (Al, Ba, Ce, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sb, V, and Zn) was determined in samples of the lichen Punctelia borreri (Sm.) Krog growing on tree bark, both on the exposed and opposite sides. ILD increases with distance from traffic emissions. However, at the site with vehicle traffic, non-nitrophilous lichens decreased while nitrophilous ones increased. The concentration of the traffic-related elements Ba, Cr, Cu, Mn, Sb, and Zn accumulated in thalli of P. borreri was higher on roadside trees than in trees from the urban park. ILD was not affected by the angular exposure to the road and the bioaccumulation of traffic-related elements was similar in lichens from the side of the bole exposed to traffic emissions and particulate resuspension and from the opposite side. The angular exposure in respect to the traffic source does not influence trace element accumulation. These results are important when using lichens for biomonitoring purposes, both for planning future studies and for the reliability of the interpretation of past surveys that do not report information about the angular exposure of the collected lichen material.


Air pollution Bioaccumulation Biomonitoring Heavy metals Lichen diversity Traffic-related elements 



This paper is dedicated to the memory of the late Prof. Carlo Gaggi (1955–2011), our colleague and friend.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luca Paoli
    • 1
    • 2
  • Silvana Munzi
    • 1
    • 3
  • Elisa Fiorini
    • 1
  • Carlo Gaggi
    • 1
  • Stefano Loppi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceUniversity of SienaSienaItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of SciencesBratislavaSlovakia
  3. 3.Centre for Environmental BiologyUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal

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