Moss is useful bioindicator of cadmium air pollution, new study finds

usfs logoApril 6, 2016. Moss growing on urban trees is a useful bio-indicator of cadmium air pollution in Portland, Oregon, a U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station-led study has found. The work - the first to use moss to generate a rigorous and detailed map of air pollution in a U.S. city - is published online in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

"What's unique about this study is that we used moss to track down previously unknown pollution sources in a complex urban environment with many possible sources," said Sarah Jovan, a research lichenologist at the station based in Portland and one of the study's co-leads.

Moss have been used as bioindicators - living organisms that can help monitor environmental health - by the Forest Service and other agencies for decades. Because moss lack roots, they absorb all of their water and nutrients from the atmosphere, inadvertently taking up and storing whatever compounds happen to be in the air.

US Forest Service to begin annual aerial surveys in early summer

tree mortality

Tree mortality expected to climb from 2015

VALLEJO, California – With tree mortality rising to an estimated record-high 27.6 million trees in California in 2015, the U.S. Forest Service Aerial Survey team’s role in generating data for the agency and state and local partners is more critical than ever.

The U.S. Forest Service began doing aerial survey detection in the Pacific Northwest Region in the 1950s, with a small program in the Pacific Southwest Region (California) established in the 1990s. A dedicated team was assigned to the regional office in the early 2000s when Sudden Oak Death became more prevalent. In addition to detecting the Sudden Oak Death and conifer mortality, aerial survey flights first detected the Gold Spotted Oak Borer infestation in 2004. 

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