Mensel, A.V., Wuyts, K., Pinho, P., Muyshond, B., Aleixo, C., Alos-Orti, M., Casanelles-Abella, J., Chiron, F., Hallikma, T., Laanisto, L., Moretti, M., Niinemets, U., Tryjanowski, P. & Samson, R. (2023)The magnetic signal from trunk bark of urban trees catches the variation in particulate matter exposure within and across six European cities.Environmental Science & Pollution Research, 30, 50883-50895. DOI:10.1007/s11356-023-25397-8 (IF2021 5,190; Q2 Environmental Sciences)
Biomagnetic monitoring increasingly is applied to assess particulate matter (PM) concentrations, mainly using plant leaves sampled in small geographical area and from a limited number of species. Here, the potential of magnetic analysis of urban tree trunk bark to discriminate between PM exposure levels was evaluated and bark magnetic variation was investigated at different spatial scales. Trunk bark was sampled from 684 urban trees of 39 genera in 173 urban green areas across six European cities. Samples were analysed magnetically for the Saturation isothermal remanent magnetisation (SIRM). The bark SIRM reflected well the PM exposure level at city and local scale, as the bark SIRM (i) differed between the cities in accordance with the mean atmospheric PM concentrations and (ii) increased with the cover of roads and industrial area around the trees. Furthermore, with increasing tree circumferences, the SIRM values increased, as a reflection of a tree age effect related to PM accumulation over time. Moreover, bark SIRM was higher at the side of the trunk facing the prevailing wind direction. Significant relationships between SIRM of different genera validate the possibility to combine bark SIRM from different genera to improve sampling resolution and coverage in biomagnetic studies. Thus, the SIRM signal of trunk bark from urban trees is a reliable proxy for atmospheric coarse to fine PM exposure in areas dominated by one PM source, as long as variation caused by genus, circumference and trunk side is taken into account.