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Sci Total Environ. 2004 May 25;324(1-3):183-99.

Assessment of lichen diversity by index of atmospheric purity (IAP), index of human impact (IHI) and other environmental factors in an urban area (Grenoble, southeast France).

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Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Département RDDM, 12 rue Buffon, 75231 Paris cedex 05, France.


An assessment of air quality in the Grenoble area was made using the index of atmospheric purity (IAP). The survey area was divided into 198 units (0.7 x 1 km), in which 345 average lichen relevés were analyzed according to the Braun-Blanquet method. Each relevé station was characterized in the field by a subjective index of human impact (IHI) calculated according to four local environmental parameters influencing the epiphytic lichen flora: urbanization (urban, suburban or rural area), road traffic (low or high), local developments (stations located within crop fields, green areas, housing sites or car parks), and exposure (trees isolated, in rows or grouped). Eighty-three epiphytic lichen species and two algae were recorded and grouped into three ecological categories defined according to bark type and nutrient needs: nitrophytic, neutrophytic and acidophytic species. IAP values, varying from 5.9 to 71.7, were clustered into five categories in order to produce an air-quality map. The geographical pattern of the IAP map showed no clear connection with local sources of pollution, such as the vicinity of a road or an industrial plant, and was not correlated with annual mean values of SO(2), NO(2) and NO for the years 1994-1997. IAP appeared to be influenced by environmental artificiality as shown by a polynomial trend observed between IAP and IHI, even if IAP values were broadly scattered. Multivariate analysis (canonical correspondence) showed that high IAP values could be observed in stations of "natural" environments at high elevations and in stations of "artificial" environments at low elevations. It was also shown that IAP varied in relation to the relative proportion of ecological groups of lichen relevés: although a majority of neutrophytic species (>50%) with a much lower percentage of nitrophytic species generally characterized high IAP, a predominance of acidophytic or nitrophytic species led to a decrease in the IAP. A correlation between nitrophytic species and artificiality of the environment was also shown. Furthermore, IAP, initially created to characterize atmospheric pollution or atmospheric purity by means of the lichen flora, is shown to be influenced by other parameters such as environmental and landscape factors.

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