Koch, N.M., Branquinho, C., Matos, P., Pinho, P., Lucheta, F., Martins, S.M.A. & Vargas, V.M.F. (2016) The application of lichens as ecological surrogates of air pollution in the subtropics: a case study in south Brazil.Environmental Science & Pollution Research, 23(20), 20819-20834. DOI:10.1007/s11356-016-7256-2 (IF2015 2,760; Q1 Environmental Sciences)
The use of lichens as ecological surrogates has been an important tool to evaluate the impact of air pollution in both ecosystem and human health but remains underused in the subtropics due to lack of knowledge. Aiming to support the application of lichen as ecological surrogates of the effects of air pollution in the subtropics, we hypothesized that urbanization was an important driver of changes on lichen diversity, composition, and vitality. For that, we quantified several lichen diversity metrics (richness, cover, and community composition) and photobiont vitality in relation to atmospheric pollution or its surrogates (modeled pollutant gases, pollutants in lichen thallus, and land cover). We confirmed that air pollution was a key driver for lichen diversity. Changes in lichen community composition and vitality were very significantly related to air pollution and integrated the effect of multiple stressors (particulate matter, NOx, and Cu), thus being powerful ecological indicators of air pollution in the subtropics.