Are metal ions accumulated by saxicolous lichens growing in a rural environment?

Richard A. Armstrong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The levels of Mn, Cu, zn, Mg and Ca were measured in the lichens Xanthoparmelia conspersa (Ach.) Hale and Parmelia glabratula ssp. fuliginosa (Fr. ex Duby): Laund. growing on a steep slate rock surface in south Gwynedd, Wales, UK. The objective was to test the following hypotheses: 1) that foliose lichens growing in a rural environment concentrate metal ions relative to the substratum, 2) that the concentration of metal ions increases significantly with thallus size and 3) that individual ions accumulate preferentially either in the marginal lobes or thallus centre. Mg and Ca were present in rainfall whereas all ions were present in rock surface runoff and in the substratum. Levels of Mn, Mg and Ca were increased in runoff collected from the bottom compared with the top of the rock surface. In P. glabratula ssp. fuliginosa thalli, ions were present as follows, Mg > Ca=Mn=Zn>Cu, and there were no significant differences in thalli collected from the top and bottom of the rock surface. With the exception of Mg and Ca, ion levels in thalli were similar to or less than those in the substratum. The levels of Ca, Cu and Zn were similar in thalli from under 1 to over 4 cm in diameter. However, the level of Mg increased with thallus size in X. conspersa while the level of Mn decreased with thallus size in both species. Ion levels were similar in the marginal lobes and centres of large diameter (over 4 cm) and small diameter (under 2 cm) X. conspersa thalli. With the exception of Mg, there was no evidence for a significant accumulation of ions relative to the substratum or with thallus size. In addition, there was no evidence to suggest preferential accumulation of ions either in the thallus centre or marginal lobes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-79
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental and Experimental Botany
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1997


  • lichen
  • metal ion
  • parmelia glabratula ssp. fuliginosa
  • slate substratum
  • xanthoparmelia conspersa


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