Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 17, pp 17413–17425 | Cite as

Changes in bryophyte and lichen communities on Scots pines along an alkaline dust pollution gradient

  • Polina DegtjarenkoEmail author
  • Liis Marmor
  • Tiina Randlane
Research Article


Dust pollution can cause a significant damage of environment and endanger human health. Our study aimed to investigate epiphytic lichens and bryophytes in relation to long-term alkaline dust pollution and provide new insights into the bioindicators of dust pollution. We measured the bark pH of Scots pines and the species richness and cover of two cryptogam groups in 32 sample plots in the vicinity of limestone quarries (up to ca. 3 km) in northern Estonia. The bark pH decreased gradually with increasing distance from quarries. We recorded the changes in natural epiphytic communities, resulting in diversified artificial communities on pines near the pollution source; the distance over 2 km from the quarries was sufficient to re-establish the normal acidity of the bark and natural communities of both lichens and bryophytes. The cover of lichens and the number of bryophytes are a more promising indicator of environmental conditions than individual species occurrence. We confirmed previously proposed and suggested new bioindicator species of dust pollution (e.g., Lecidella elaeochroma, Opegrapha varia, Schistidium apocarpum). Limestone quarrying activity revealed a “parapositive” impact on cryptogamic communities, meaning that quarrying might, besides disturbances of natural communities, temporarily contribute to the distribution of locally rare species.


Particulate matter Air pollution Lichens Bryophytes Limestone quarries Bioindication Monitoring Rare species 



This work was financially supported by the Estonian Research Council (grants ETF9109 and PUT1017 to TR and project IUT34-7). Many thanks to Kai Vellak and Nele Ingerpuu for the help with identification of bryophytes and to Ede Oja and Inga Jüriado for confirming the identification of some lichens. Andres Saag is thanked for the help with preparing the map. We are also grateful to anonymous reviewer for the valuable comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Polina Degtjarenko
    • 1
    Email author
  • Liis Marmor
    • 1
  • Tiina Randlane
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Ecology and Earth SciencesUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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