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Publication Information

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Title: Canaries in a coal mine: using lichens to measure nitrogen pollution

Author: Oliver, Marie

Date: 2011

Source: Science Findings 131. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p

Publication Series: S-FS

Description: In Pacific Northwest forests, lichens provide essential winter forage for deer and elk and also nesting materials and habitat for rodents, birds, and invertebrates. Although lichens are often the first organisms to populate a landscape and many species can survive in the most barren environments, lichens with the greatest ecological value tend to be the most sensitive to excess atmospheric nitrogen. In areas with high levels of human-generated nitrogen, ecologically beneficial lichen species are disappearing and "weedy" species are thriving. Because lichen are innately sensitive to nitrogen, scientists use lichen community composition as an early indicator of encroaching nitrogen pollution.

Based on science by Linda Geiser, and Sarah Jovan.

Keywords: Lichen, nitrogen pollution, critical loads, Pacific Northwest, Linda Geiser, Sarah Jovan.

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • You may send email to pnw_pnwpubs@fs.fed.us to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)

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Citation:


Oliver, Marie. 2011. Canaries in a coal mine: using lichens to measure nitrogen pollution. Science Findings 131. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 6 p.

 


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