07 Jul What does air pollution have to do with lichen?
Air pollution has been a topic for over a century but is being brought every more painfully into focus with new urban population statistics. Lichen is a surprising ally when it comes to monitoring air quality as its growth or lack thereof is an indicator for the presence of various industrial pollutants. The photos below were taken at the highest point in Sierra de Frarncia range in Mid west Spain, where as you wold expect the air quality is excellent and the variety of lichen vast.
Lichens are plants that grow in exposed places such as rocks or tree bark. They need to be very good at absorbing water and nutrients to grow there. Rainwater contains just enough nutrients to keep them alive. Air pollutants dissolved in rainwater, especially sulfur dioxide, can damage lichens and prevent them from growing. This makes lichens natural indicators of air pollution. ~ BBC GCSE Bitesize Revision Guide