Efficacy of a Biomonitoring (Moss Bag) Technique for Determining Element Deposition Trends on a Mid-Range (375 Km) Scale

  • M. M. MakholmEmail author
  • David J. Mladenoff


National networks detect multi-state trends in element deposition using direct measurement methods. Biomonitoring techniques have been used to examine deposition in local areas and around point sources. We sought to determine the efficacy of a moss bag technique to detect element deposition trends on a mid-range (state) scale, and to compare these results with those of the National Acid Deposition Program/National Trends Network (NADP/NTN, 1999). We sampled heavy metals, sulfur, and nitrogen deposition (21 elements) using mesh bags containing Sphagnum russowii at nine sites, over a 375 km transect crossing southern Wisconsin (upper Midwest, USA). We found statistically significant trends of decreasing deposition in a northwesterly direction for 13 elements: Al, B, Ca, Cd, Co, Cu, Cr, Fe, Mg, Mn, Ni, S, and Zn. Six of these have moderate to large changes in concentration (14–37%). The trends for Ca, Mg, and S are consistent with regional deposition patterns in 1998 isopleth maps from the NADP/NTN (1999) which are derived from a sampling array far less dense than the transect sites. This national network indicates that Ca and Mg increase to the southeast, beyond Wisconsin borders. The fact that the present study demonstrates strong correlations between both of these elements (Ca and Mg) and Al, B, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, and Zn (mean r for all correlations = 0.75, p < 0.02) implies that these correlated elements also increase to the southeast in neighboring states.


biomonitoring moss deposition element Sphagnum heavy metals sulfur nitrogen 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wisconsin Department of Natural ResourcesMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forest Ecology and ManagementUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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