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The Usage of Lichens to Monitor Pollution (Essay Sample)


The instructions required me to to the following:
Why are lichens considered early indicators of the impact that pollution may have in an area? Speculate about what might happen if the global environment deteriorates to a degree where no more lichen species are surviving (consider the old-growth forests in your answer).


Lichens and Pollution
Using Lichens to Monitor Pollution
Lichens are considered perfect indicator species. Indicator species refer to any biological species that clearly defines an environmental characteristic or trait. Lichens are associated organisms formed by two different beings through a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae. In this case, the fungus offers shelter for the algae and the algae gives the fungi food. Lichens do not have roots and they acquire nutrients from the atmosphere. Lichens are considered early indicators of the impact that pollution may have in an area. These organisms are useful bioindicators. They are used to indicate the presence of pollutants in the environment, especially sulfur dioxide. The ability of lichens to acquire nutrients and water from the atmosphere makes them good bioindicators. As well, they react to pollutants in the air. According to Shukla, Upreti & Bajpai (2013), lichens are also utilized to indicate the presence of radioactive metals and toxic elements in the environment. The accumulation can then be evaluated by environmental scientists to assess the local air’s history.

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