Monitoring with Lichens — Monitoring Lichens pp 11-20

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Bioindication: Calibrated Scales and Their Utility

  • D. L. Hawksworth


Awareness that lichen communities were affected by pollution arose at least by 1790, when Erasmus Darwin noted how they failed to grow near metal smelters on the island of Anglesey in North Wales [7]. In about 1812 William Borrer observed that scarcely any lichens could exist where the air was impure [50], presenting this in a manner suggesting this was no new observation but something appreciated, but evidently rarely mentioned in print. Grindon [20] was more explicit in noting deteriorations in lichen communities near Manchester due to tree-felling and especially ‘factory smoke’. It was Nylander [37], however, who first suggested that lichens could be used as a very sensitive hygrometer to actually measure the health of the air. The idea quickly spread and there are numerous references to the sensitivity of lichens to air pollution or ‘smoke’ in late nineteenth century European literature [22]. However, the first publication devoted entirely to the subject appears to be that of Johnson [31] who in 1879 attributed losses of lichens to ‘smoke and fumes’ from Tyneside and nearby collieries.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. L. Hawksworth
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia Vegetal II, Facultad de FarmaciaUniversidad Complutense, Plaza de Ramón y Cajal, Ciudad UniversitariaMadridSpain

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