Field and laboratory exposures of two moss species to low level metal pollution

A.H. Tremper, Agneta Burton, David Edward Barry Higgs

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Moss transplants of the species Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus and Pleurozium schreberi were used as active biomonitoring organisms as a part of a monitoring study to assess the impact of metals associated with ambient particles on mosses at roadsides. The moss samples were exposed at a semi-urban and roadside site for 3 months for subsequent analysis of metal concentration (Cu, Pb and Zn). This field experiment was carried out to investigate the accumulation of the metals over a period of 0, 4, 8 and 12 weeks at the two sites. The metal concentration in the moss samples generally increased with the length of exposure and was higher at the roadside site. The two species, however, showed slightly different accumulation patterns. In addition to the metal analysis chlorophyll concentrations were analysed as a measure of stress response in the moss samples of the above mentioned field exposures. The chlorophyll concentrations of exposed mosses showed no or only weak correlations to the concentration of the three metals measured in the moss, which suggests that other conditions have a greater influence on the chlorophyll concentration. The effect of a single metal on the moss was studied in laboratory experiments exposing R. squarrosus to the metals copper, lead and zinc at concentrations based on the above field data. At the concentrations used there was a significant reduction in the chlorophyll a concentration after exposure to copper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-120
JournalJournal of Atmospheric Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Biomonitoring
  • moss
  • roadsides
  • stress response
  • trace metals


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