Identifying the origin of atmospheric inputs of trace elements in the Prades Mountains (Catalonia) with bryophytes, lichens, and soil monitoring

Ander Achotegui-Castells, Jordi Sardans, Àngela Ribas, Josep Peñuelas

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21 Citations (Scopus)


The biomonitors Hypnum cupressiforme and Xanthoria parietina were used to assess the deposition of trace elements and their possible origin in the Prades Mountains, a protected Mediterranean forest area of NE Spain with several pollution sources nearby. Al, As, Cd, Co, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb, Sb, Ti, V, and Zn were determined in 16 locations within this protected area. Soil trace element concentrations were also ascertained to calculate enrichment factors (EF) and use them to distinguish airborne from soilborne trace element inputs. In addition, lichen richness was measured to further assess atmospheric pollution. EF demonstrated to be useful not only for the moss but also for the lichen. Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, and Zn presented values higher than three in both biomonitors. These trace elements were also the main ones emitted by the potential sources of pollutants. The distance between sampling locations and potential pollution sources was correlated with the concentrations of Cu, Sb, and Zn in the moss and with Cr, Ni, and Sb in the lichen. Lichen richness was negatively correlated with lichen Cu, Pb, and V concentrations on dry weight basis. The study reflected the remarkable influence that the pollution sources have on the presence of trace elements and on lichen species community composition in this natural area. The study highlights the value of combining the use of biomonitors, enrichment factors, and lichen diversity for pollution assessment to reach a better overview of both trace elements' impact and the localization of their sources. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-629
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • Biomonitors
  • Enrichment factor
  • Heavy metals
  • Hypnum cupressiforme
  • Species richness
  • Xanthoria parietina


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