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close this bookBiological Monitoring: Signals from the Environment (GTZ, 1991)
close this folderBioindicators for monitoring of atmospheric pollutants in Asian countries
View the document(introduction...)
View the document1. Introduction
Open this folder and view contents2. Applied biological monitoring techniques in Asia, with special consideration given-to the developing countries
Open this folder and view contents3. Summary in table form of the surveyed publications
View the document4. Conclusions
View the documentReferences
View the documentChemical Substances and Compounds
View the documentGlossary


(A survey of the literature up to 1986)
by Lore Steubing, Jutta Biermann, Reinhard Debus

1. Introduction

In view of the growing problems caused by environmental pollution in both the industrialized and the developing countries, there is a justified interest in finding appropriate methods for monitoring the environment and detecting the level of atmospheric contamination.

Because of the inherent limitations imposed on the information yielded by individual measurements of physical and chemical parameters, as well as practical difficulties associated with performing them, it is worthwhile investigating whether- especially in developing countries - biological indicators could be used alternatively or additionally to monitor the environment in tropical and subtropical ecosystems.

The aim of this survey of the literature is to show where in Asia biological monitoring ("biomonitoring") has already been practiced, and which, if any, unique aspects or special problems have arisen or must be taken into account in future.

A survey is provided of the techniques of biological indication which have been applied in India, China and Hong Kong. In addition, work which has been done in South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia is also given consideration. Japanese studies are discussed only by way of illustration.

Considerable difficulties had to be overcome in order to obtain some of the publications surveyed here. We were provided with most of the articles from China and India with the assistance of scientific colleagues in the respective countries. It was possible to obtain part of the literature by way of libraries, especially the library of the University of Hanover.

Almost without exception, the Chinese publications are also written in Chinese. Only a few of the articles begin with a brief English abstract. In order to carry out a detailed study of the literature, however, it was necessary to have certain of the articles translated.

In connection with articles that appeared in the periodicals "Journal of Environmental Science" and "Journal of Ecology", the problem arose that, evidently, in each case two journals exist with the same name, and the Chinese ones were not available in the Federal Republic of Germany.

For the above reasons, the present survey - finished in 1986 - cannot lay claim to being exhaustive.

The basis for decisions on whether or not and in what way a given plant species is suitable for use as a biological indicator is provided by laboratory experiments in which the resistance or sensitivity of crop and meadow plants to selected environmental contaminants are investigated. For this reason, the presentation of practical examples is preceded by a survey of fumigation experiments and their results.

These publications on bioindicators have been organized on the basis of the different monitoring techniques and biological indication types which they deal with. In the case of a few selected examples, the results are presented in graphical and tabular form. Potential sources of error are pointed out.

Finally, all of the surveyed publications are listed in a bibliography, grouped by country.

2.1 Fumigation and dusting experiments as the basis for selection of biological indicators

The surveyed publications from India describe fumigation experiments which were carried out on agricultural crop plants. The concentrations of pollutants used for fumigation were between 0.25 ppm and 2 ppm. The experiments were conducted for maximum durations of 3 months, between I and 8 hours per day. As far as can be gleaned from the articles, the experiments were conducted either in simple fumigation chambers or in the open. Recently, single experiments have also been conducted in open pots.

PRASAD & RAO (1980 and 1981) exposed Triticum aestivam (wheat) to SO2 and studied its calorific value, respiration rate, carbohydrate content and biomass. RAO (1980) worked with Medicago sativa (alfalfa). He also studied the effect of SO2 fumigation on biomass, as well as that on primary production, root and shoot lengths, and chlorophyll content. SINGH & RAO (1980 a and b) extended the above-mentioned measurements to Solanum melangena (eggplant) and Phaseolus aureus (bean), also determining citric acid content and the pH value of leaf extract, and assessing leaf damage. The work of AGRAWAL et al. (1982) focused on monitoring of pigment, assessment of leaf damage and a description of pollution induced symptoms. The object of their study was Oryza sativa (rice). VARSHNEY & VARSHNEY (1981) studied the effects of SO2 pollution on pollen germination and pollen tube growth in Cicer arietenum (chick-pea), Nasturtium indicum (watercress), Petunia alba (petunia) and Tradescantia axillaris (tradescantia).

AGRAWAL (1985) performed SO2 and O3 fumigation experiments on Oryza sativa (rice), Panicum miliaceum (Indian millet), Cicer arietenum (chick-pea) and Vicia faba (broad bean). He chose the symptoms of leaf damage, transpiration rate, pigment and metabolite contents, as well as catalase and peroxidase enzyme activity and biomass production as parameters for assessing the potential of each of these plant species as biological indicators.

AWANG & ZAINUN (1985/Malaysia) exposed plants to environmentally significant concentrations of gaseous SO2. They studied the effect of SO2 on transpiration, diffusion resistance, potassium loss of leaves, and chlorophyll content in Petunia sp. (petunia), Ixora javanica (evergreen shrub) and Cinnamon iners (cinnamon tree); these are ornamental plants that grow in the parks of Kuala Lumpur.

In a study by JIANG MEI-ZHEN (1983/China), the effects of SO2 on ornamental plants of varying sensitivity were investigated. Potted Petunia hybrida (petunia), Pelargonium hortorum (geranium), Begonia semperflorens (begonia), Dianthus barbatus (carnation), Euphorbia pulcherrima (spurge), Tulipa gesneriana (tulip) and Hyacinthus orientalis (hyacinth) plants were exposed to the air of different parts of Hang Zhou with varying intensities of SO2 pollution. An oil refinery was named as the source of the pollutants. The plants were grown from cuttings or seed, either in a greenhouse or directly in the open. The exposed pots were watered once a day. No additional information on the fumigation conditions is supplied. After 24 and 48 hours the damage to the leaves was assessed and the plant species assigned to one of three groups depending on the degree of damage suffered:

1. Very sensitive; 50% of the leaf surface area is damaged after 24 hours, and the flowers droop.

2. Sensitive; no obvious symptoms until fumigation has lasted 48 hours; 50% of the leaf surface area is damaged, the leaves wilt and turn yellow, but are not shed prematurely.

3. Non-sensitive; the leaves remain green, less than 10% of the leaf surface area is damaged.

CAO HONGFA and TAYLOR (1985/China) studied the growth and stomatal response of pinto bean plants following long-term fumigation with low SO2 concentrations. They were able to show that SO2 levels below the toxic threshold led to reduced growth, but that just one day after beginning fumigation the transpiration resistance reached the control value.

A large number of publications by Japanese researchers have appeared on fumigation experiments with SO2, O3, NO2 and ethylene:

Exposure to SO2

FUJINUMA & AIGA (1980) carried out SO2 fumigation trials with the aim of identifying sensitive rice varieties. The effects of SO2 on photosynthesis, transpiration and stomatal resistance in Helianthus annuus (sunflower) were described by FURUKAWA et al. (1980) and USHIJIMA & TAZAKI (1977). The latter also studied Pharbitis nil (morning glory), Zea mays (maize) and Sorghum vulgare (sorghum). Investigations were also carried out on Helianthus annuus (sunflower) by OMASA et al. (1980) and SHIMIZU et al. (1980). SHIMIZU et al. (1980) observed its growth behavior at different pollutant concentrations. FURUKAWA et al. (1980) listed the damage caused to the leaves of 25 herbaceous plant species following SO2 exposure, and measured the changes in transpiration rates. KATASE et al. (1983) provide data on the responses of three C4 and three C3 plants with respect to photosynthesis and transpiration. Their results throw light on the absorption of SO2 by the leaves. YAMAZOE & MAYUMI (1977) report on the effects of SO2 pollution on the chlorophyll content of Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco).

Exposure to O3

A comprehensive study on the effects of ozone on the epidermis, chloroplasts, ribosomes and mitochondria in leaves of Pharbitis nil (morning glory) was conducted by NOUCHI et al. (1977). In a later study, NOUCHI and AOKI (1979) assessed leaf damage in Pharbitis nil induced by exposure to various O3 concentrations.

The response of Oryza sativa (rice) was studied by FUJINUMA & AIGA (1980), NAKAMURA & OTA (1975 and 1977) and YAMAZOE & MAYUMI (1977). The observed deleterious effects of fumigation were assessed, examined under the microscope, and correlated with the physiological parameters of photosynthesis and chlorophyll and protein content. YAMAZOE & MAYUMI (1977) also used Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco), Spinacia oleracea (spinach) and Zea mays (maize) for their fumigation experiments.

Exposure to NO2

YONEYAMA et al. (1980) describe the influence of NO2 on leaf surfaces and the drymatter weights of leaves, shoots and roots. They exposed Helianthus annuus (sunflower), Zea mays (maize), Phaseolus sp. (bean), Cucumis sativus (cucumber), Solanum Iycopersicum (tomato) and Beta vulgaris (beet) to NO2. YAMAZOE & MAYUMI (1977) determined the extent of leaf damage and the protein, nitrogen and sulfur contents in Zea mays (maize) after NO2 fumigation.

MATSUSHIMA (1977) exposed various tree species to NO2 and rated them in order of their sensitivity. In the case of zelkova, he also studied the effects of nitrogen dioxide on the microscopic structures of the cells.

Exposure to ethylene

After carrying out fumigation experiments, MATSUSHIMA (1977) rated a group of herbaceous plants according to their sensitivity to ethylene.

Exposure to dust

Another important aspect of pollution dealt with in these studies of biological indication is dusting of plants, especially with cement dust, which has been investigated most thoroughly by Indian researchers. SINGH & RAO (1978 and 1981) exposed wheat to cement dust in the laboratory. The dust treatments were performed in an open-top chamber in order to eliminate wind-induced drifting. Dust was applied at the rate of 7g/m³/d. Productivity, transpiration rates and chlorophyll contents were studied under the influence of the cement dust. The studies revealed a clear linear relationship between the amount of dust applied and the responses of the plants.

PERIASAMY & VIVEKANANDAN (1982/lndia) concerned themselves with the morphological and physiological effects of coal particle pollution on various angiosperms. They investigated the number of stomata, chlorophyll and carotenoid contents, and the transpiration activity of Calotropis giganta ("aak"), Leucas aspera (Labiatae), Tephrosia purpurea ("pila"), Croton sparsiflorus (Euphorbiaceae), Prosopis spicigera ("sami tree" or "sacred tree") and Boerhauvia diffusa ("peta-sudupala"). The specimens for the test were obtained from the immediate surroundings of a locomotive shed and from a control area which is not described in greater detail. The experiments showed that the responses of the selected plants to coal particle pollution varied greatly. While Calotropis, Leucas and Tephrosia suffered greater damage, the changes observed in Croton were minimal, and Prosopis and Boerhaavia were not affected at all.

2.2 Active monitoring

2.2.1 Cumulative bioindicators
2.2.2 Sensitive bioindicators

Active monitoring is the term used to refer to fumigation of uniform plant material in the field under largely standardized conditions. The plants for fumigation are raised in uncontaminated soil of standardized, uniform characteristics. They are subsequently placed in the field in pots or containers. The use of cloned individuals permits the number of specimens per site to be kept relatively low. Either cumulative or sensitive biological indicators can be used. The choice depends on which atmospheric pollutants are to be tested for.

Plant species used as bioindicators are characterized by high sensitivity to air pollutants or ability to accumulate contaminant(s). One of the major advantages of active monitoring is that physiology and ecology of the indicator plants are well known. Reactions to environmental stress are easier to evaluate with these exposed plants than the reactions of the local flora.

2.2.1 Cumulative bioindicators

Active monitoring with cumulative bioindicators was carried out with trees, herbs and grasses.

FANG CAI-GIN & DUAN JI-GUANG (1982/China) carried out trials with potted specimens of the Japanese pagoda tree (Sophora japonica), two other Sophora species, and one Populus (poplar) and one Pinus (pine) species in industrial areas of the city of Beijing with differing pollution levels. The Latin designations of the species used are not indicated in the Chinese text, for which reason it is not possible to accurately identify them here. Information provided on the conditions and duration of fumigation is also insufficient.

Afterwards the sulfur content of the dustfall on the leaves and of the leaves themselves was determined. Measurements of the SO2 concentrations in the air were not carried out.

Where high sulfur contents were measured in the leaves, the authors concluded that the trees in question had a high filtering capacity, and consequently that this served to reduce the sulfur levels in the air. This conclusion must be regarded critically, however.

Another study is from India (EIAS/1/19851986), and is concerned with lead pollution from automobile exhaust in New Delhi. Once a month, the SO2, NO2, dust and lead pollution of the air at traffic intersections with varying traffic densities were measured analytically. At six selected sites, Cynodon dactylon (devil grass), Alstonia scholaris (alstonia), Nerium indicum ("kaner" = a dense shrub) and Eugenia jambolana ("jamun" = a tree species) were exposed. The Cynodon dactylon plants failed within just a few days, however, due to nibbling by rodents. No information is provided on the fumigation conditions or on whether the water supply of the plants was standardized, which is an important aspect. On the basis of the lead contents measured in the soil and in the plants, as well as biomass, chlorophyll content and leaf surface area of the individual plant species at the different sites, a "lead pollution tolerance index" (LPTI) was calculated. It was not possible to establish any correlation between traffic density and the lead content of the plants. It did emerge, however, that the tree Eugenia jambolana and the dense shrub Nerium indicum, due to their high accumulation capacity, are effective filters and suitable for planting along roadsides.

2.2.2 Sensitive bioindicators

DUN WAN-RU et al. ( I 985/China) were able, using a nucleolus test with Tradescantia cells, to demonstrate the lead pollution caused by a factory producing dry-cell batteries. The mutagenic effect of lead can be quickly and simply diagnosed by determining the nucleolus frequency.

Since only fragments of the original Chinese article are available, it is not possible to provide any further details on the method used.

YIAN LI-YING et al. (1985) carried out active monitoring with plants of varying sensitivity to sulfur dioxide in the immediate vicinity of a sulfur factory, and in an unpolluted control area. The plants used as indicators were Pittosporum tobira (hedge laurel), Rhododendron simsii (rhododendron), Nerium indicum ("kaner"), Michelia alba (Magnoliaceae) and Eucalyptus maculata (a eucalypt). After 45 days they observed visible signs of damage, analyzed the sulfur content of the leaves, and used electrophoresis to determine the number of peroxidase isoenzymes. They also used analytical means to measure the SO2 concentration in the air, and recorded weather and microclimatic factors.

Table 1: Sites selected for phytomonitoring of ambient air quality around a fertilizer factory in Bombay, using Ipomoea carnea.

Site No.


Description in brief


Research center

Green area treated as control. South of factory.


Training institute

Southwest of factory; stacks not in wind direction.


Effluent treatment plant

North of stacks; not in wind direction.


Ammonium nitrophosphate plant(ANP1 )

In the downwind direction on the eastern side and near the stack.


Ammonium nitrophosphate plant(ANP2 )

20 m south of site IV.


Trainee hostel

In the downwind direction on the eastern side, about 500 m away from the stack.


Collectors' colony

In the downwind direction on the eastern side and500 m east of site IV.


Highway gate No. 111

Fairly green area, to the north of the factory com plex.

It turned out that Rhododendron responded sensitively. Nerium and Pittosporum, by contrast, proved to be resistant to sulfur dioxide pollution, as evidenced by their external symptoms, the sulfur content of the leaves, and the numbers of isoenzymes.

VARSHNEY (1985/lndia) presents a pollen germination test as a suitable method of active monitoring with sensitive indicator plants. Numerous fumigation experiments showed that pollen grains are more sensitive to emissions than the assimilation organs. Within just a few hours, exposure to atmospheric contaminants results in a reduced pollen germination rate and diminished pollen tube growth.

Figure 1: Response of Ipomoea carnea to ambient air conditions around a fertilizer complex. Results computed on the basis of oven-dry weight (g).

CHAPHEKAR et al. (1985/lndia) carried out active monitoring in the area around a fertilizer factory in Bombay using the ruderal plant Ipomoea carnea. This plant species is readily available and can be easily propagated by means of cuttings; moreover, it responds sensitively to air pollution.
The authors gathered plant material at eight different polluted sites in the city (Table 1) and weighed the dry matter of the individual specimens (Figure 1).
Here, too, the authors express criticism of the lack of standardization. In additional studies they intend to optimize the procedure.

Very extensive active monitoring with a sensitive bioindicator was carried out by BORALKAR & MUKHERJEE (in press/India). The indicator plant used was Medicago sativa (alfalfa), which was exposed at five sites in New Delhi with varying levels of air pollution, under controlled conditions which are not described in detail. After 21 days, shoot length, oven-dry weight and soluble sulfate content were measured. All three parameters underwent distinct changes as a result of the air pollution. The extent to which they changed corresponded to the physically measured levels of atmospheric contamination (SO2, NO2, dust particles and sulfur deposition). The reduction in shoot growth and dry matter and the increase in sulfur content of the foliar material, all expressed as percentages, were used to derive an "Air Pollution Index" (API). The API is thus intended to be a measure of the level of air pollution. It is depicted graphically as a circle, the radius of which is proportional to the API of Medicago sativa at that particular measuring site (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Values of SO2, NO2, suspended particulate matter (SPM) and sulfur deposition and the level of air pollution as indicated by the Air Pollution Index (API) of Medicago sativa (alfalfa) plants. APCA = Air Pollution Control Areas.

The authors of the study point out the difficulties associated with tending the measuring stations and with providing the exposed plants with a uniform supply of water. However, they exclude the possibility of the growth parameters being inhibited primarily by lack of water.

2.3 Passive monitoring

2.3.1 Cumulative bioindicators
2.3.2 Sensitive bioindicators

In this approach as well, the sensitive or accumulating properties of plants with respect to atmospheric pollutants are utilized. Deviations from the normal behavior of flora growing at a given site (wild, crop or forest plants) are observed and analyzed.

Repeated vegetation mappings can also be described as a kind of passive monitoring. Such measures include the making of maps and lists of species, and descriptions of distribution patterns. One special technique involves mapping the cryptogamic vegetation of an area; if the sensitivities of the individual species are known, a correlation can be established between the degree of atmospheric pollution and the distribution of moss and lichen species.

In the studied developing countries, passive monitoring techniques were used far more frequently than active monitoring procedures.

In the following, all of the relevant publications are grouped together according to bioindicator type and the principal sources of emissions, irrespective of country of origin. Greatest attention has clearly been focused on SO2 and F pollution by industry, as well as on lead and particulate contamination from automobile traffic.

2.3.1 Cumulative bioindicators


FANG CAI-GIN & DUAN JI-GUANG (1982/China) analyzed sulfur concentrations in the leaves of various tree species in industrial areas with varying pollution levels in the city of Beijing.

YIAN LI-YING & ZHU TIANJI (1983/China) also measured the sulfur content of the leaves of four different plant species at 18 sampling sites in the city of Guang Zhou, and subsequently divided the city up into four zones on the basis of a calculated sulfur content index (IPC):

I: IPC < 1.0


II: IPC between 1.0 and 1.5

lightly polluted

III: IPC between 1.5 and 2.0

moderately polluted

IV: IPC > 2.0

heavily polluted

Similar studies were carried out by CHEN QINGNAN (1984/China) in the city of Tianjin, and SONG et al. (1988) in Shanghai.

MEENAKSHY and coworkers (1981/lndia) investigated fluoride accumulation in forage plants, in particular Cynodon dactylon (devil grass), in the vicinity of a phosphatic fertilizer factory. Over an extended period of time, fluoride levels in the ambient air and in the plants were periodically determined. The test sites were chosen in such a way that the plants growing there were subjected to different levels of pollutants at different times of the year, depending on the prevailing wind directions. The studies yielded a clear correlation between atmospheric fluoride contamination and the fluoride content of the plants (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Levels of fluoride in the ambient air and in the forage plants (Cynodon dactylon) at the four sites, the winds being predominantly wesserly to southwesterly from June to September and mostly northerly to northwesterly from November to March.

CHENG DONG-JI et al. (1983/China) used three relatively insensitive tree species to assess the atmospheric burden in the city of Hang Zhou. Under standardized conditions, Ligustrum lucidum (privet), Cinnamomum comphora (camphor tree) and Platanus acerifolia (plane tree) were tested at a height of 5 m above the ground and in three different directions. In addition, the atmospheric fluoride content was determined by mounting alkaline collector traps in the selected trees, also at a height of 5 m above the ground, and measuring the amount of adsorbed fluoride after I month. The fluoride content of the plant tissue was measured with an ion-selective electrode following treatment with perchloric acid.

There was a strong correlation between the fluoride content of the leaves and that of the air. The authors were thus able to show that the pollutant content of the leaves could be used to monitor atmospheric quality with respect to fluoride pollution.

GAO DE & LIU HUANZHI (1985/China) and SHI GUANG (1986/China) used a similar approach to determine the fluoride content of the atmosphere and plants in the immediate vicinity of iron and steel works in Baoutou. The fluoride contents measured in the leaves had a clear positive correlation with atmospheric fluoride pollution. However, SHI GUANG's endeavors were primarily directed towards identifying tree species which are particularly tolerant of fluoride and therefore suited for planting in the city.

SUCKCHAROEN (1980/Thailand) measured the mercury content of various food plants in order to determine the extent of mercury contamination emanating from a caustic soda factory (TACSCO) (Table 2). In the course of his investigations he was able to observe a "chimney effect". For instance, he found less mercury in samples of Sporobolus virginicus taken from directly next to the factory than at a short distance from it. It is not apparent from the article at what distances from the factory the other plant samples were taken. Neither is any detailed information provided on the control area.

PARTHASARATHY et al. (1975/lndia) investigated the effect of dust emitted by a cement factory on the physical properties of the soil and spike production of maize plants. It emerged that the cement dust had a significant deleterious effect on the production of maize spikes. The authors attributed this to diminished photosynthesis by the maize plants as a result of dust accretion on the assimilation organs.

Automobile exhaust

WONG & TAM (1978/Hong Kong) used two different species of brassica (Brassica alboglabra and Brassica parachinensis) as cumulative bioindicators for detection of lead contamination caused by road traffic.

Table 2: Mercury content (on dry-weight basis) in the leaves of plants from the TACSCO area and from the control area.



Control area

Leucaena glauca (horse tamarind)

1.1 ± 0.1

0.02 ± 0.005

Coccinia indica (small gourd)

1.5 ± 0.2

0.06 ± 0.02

Psidium guayava (guava)

2.5 ± 0.2

0.04 ± 0.02

Solanum melongena(eggplant)

7.4 ± 0.7

0.04 ± 0.02

Morinda citrifolia(Indian mulberry, brimstone tree)

1.3 ± 0.2

0.06 ± 0.005

Sporobolus virginicus (grass) Distance from the factory


0.6 ± 0.11


10 m

0.7 ± 0.08

20 m

0.8 ± 0.09

45 m

1.8 ± 0.5

Figure 4: Lead content in soil samples and in leaves of Brassica alboglabra in relation to the distance from the motorway.

At various distances from a major thoroughfare, soil and plants were sampled and atomic absorption spectroscopy used to determine their lead content. The plant samples were differentiated into leaves, shoots and roots that were unwashed, washed with distilled water, or cleaned with a detergent (Figure 4).

HO & TAI (1979/Hong Kong) demonstrated the importance of leaf surface characteristics for the propensity of plants to trap airborne pollutants. They also established the relationship between meteorological factors, in particular rainfall, and the degree of leaf surface contamination - Alocasia odora (Araceae) for example possesses smooth, ceraceous leaves, while those of Mikania guaca ("17-miles-a-minute") are covered with hairs (Figure 5).

Taking an approach similar to that of WONG & TAM, AGRAWAL et al. (1980 and 1981/India) determined lead contamination levels caused by automobile exhaust in Baroda. However, no precise information is supplied on the plant species used.

ZANG CHUN-XING et al. (1984/China) used the lead levels measured in poplars, willows and locust trees to divide the city of Shenyang into four zones (seriously polluted, polluted, lightly polluted, relatively clean).

Figure 5: Variation in lead levels in the leaves of Alocasia odora (smooth, ceraceous leaves) and Mikania guaco (leaves covered with hairs), together with rainfall data from the sampling period.

BORALKAR et al. (in press/lndia) investigated the increase in atmospheric lead levels caused by automobile emissions in New Delhi during the IXth Asian Games, which lasted from November 19 to December 4, 1982.

During the months of October, November and December, they took samples of Nerium indicum ("kaner") and Eucalyptus rostrata (a eucalypt) at seven selected traffic intersections. At the beginning of the games in November a clear increase in the lead concentrations in the leaves was recorded (Figure 6; based on Nerium indicum samples). In December the values dropped off again drastically.

2.3.2 Sensitive bioindicators


In the surveyed articles, four principal methods are described for delimitation of the area affected by pollutants emitted by a given source.

Phytosociological studies in combination with soil analysis were carried out (WONG, 1978/Hong Kong), macroscopic evaluations of visible damage were performed, in part combined with quantitative analysis of pollutant levels (BORALKAR, 1980/lndia; CHAPHEKAR, 1972/lndia and DENG RUIWEN, 1985/China); and physiological parameters and decreases in yields were investigated (SINGH & RAO, 1980/lndia; LAL & AMBASHT, 1981/India and HE YANLING & JIA XIU-FENG, 1986/China). Most of these studies involved morphological and microscopical examination, with attention focusing on leaf surface characteristics and epidermal cell types.

Figure 6: Locations for collection of leaf samples on the Ring Road (Delhi), with indication of the lead levels in the leaves of Nerium indicum in October (O), November (N) and December (D).

Table 3: The results of soil analysis and the distribution of plant species along transects I and II.

Distance from the factory (m)






Transect I







Soluble sulfate (ppm)






Ground coverage of plants (%)

< 5





Transect II







Soluble sulfate (ppm)






Ground coverage of plants (%)

< 5





Figure 7: Map of the study site, showing the locations of the factory pollutant source and the two transects.

WONG (1978/Hong Kong) performed vegetation mappings along two transects with differing degrees of exposure to a pollution source (Figure 7). He collected data on how the distribution of plant species changed at varying distances from the SO2 source (5-100 m) and at differing orientations with respect to the source. Parallel to this, WONG recorded the damage sustained by plante and carried out soil analyses (Table 3). In addition, he carried out a greenhouse experiment to determine the effect of soil collected from the site on growth of Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) and Phaseolus mungo (mung bean).

Macroscopically visible damage to vegetation caused by fluoride pollution was assessed by BORALKAR (1980/lndia) along a transect 500 m long and 3 m wide extending out from a glass factory. The degree of damage at each point was assigned to one of four categories:

"S" slight: less than 25% of the leaf surface area is damaged
"M" moderate: 26-50% of the leaf surface area is damaged
"H" heavy: 51-74% of the leaf surface area is damaged
"C" complete: 75% or more of the leaf surface area is damaged

He observed that the crowns of the surveyed mango and Ficus trees had not grown toward the glass factory. The fluoride content of the ambient air and the plants was not measured, however.

CHAPHEKAR (1972/India) proceeded in a similar way to delimit the contamination caused by a fertilizer factory.

Both were only able to draw the conclusion that the responses of the plants to fluoride contamination varied widely.

DENG RUI-WEN (1985/China) measured the fluoride levels in the air, the soil and plant samples (Prunus persica (peach), Prunus armeniaca (apricot), Triticum aestivum (wheat) and the bulbs of scallion and garlic) and evaluated leaf damage within a radius of 4,000 - 7,500 m from the contaminant source (an aluminum foundry), and on the basis of the results divided the area into four zones of differing pollution levels, thus defining the environmental impact of the source. There was a direct correlation between atmospheric fluoride levels and leaf damage and fluoride content of the plants.

Reductions in yield and physiological parameters, in particular chlorophyll content, were used by SINGH & RAO (1980/India), LAL & AMBASHT (1981/India) and HE YAN-LING & JIA XIU-FENG (1986/China) to evaluate various environmental burdens caused by industrial emissions.

Figure 8: Variation in quantitative and qualitative characteristics of wheat grains, in the chlorophyll content of leaves, and in the biomass of wheat plants from different sites.

Figure 9: Chlorophyll content (mg per g of dry weight) of Diospyrus melanoxylon leaves in relation to the distance from the aluminum factory.

SINGH & RAO determined the influence of cement dust on the chlorophyll content, biomass and grain quality of Triticum aestivum (wheat) (Figure 8). They were able to establish a positive correlation between growth of the plants and the distance from the source of contamination. LAL & AMBASHT measured the following reductions in chlorophyll, biomass and leaf sizes caused by fluoride pollution in Diospyrus melanoxylon (ebony tree of southern India), the leaves of which are used in India for manufacture of aromatic cigarets (Figure 9).

AHMAD and YUNUS (1985/lndia), in their publication "Leaf surface characteristics as indicators of air pollution", provide an extensive survey of studies conducted using light or scanning electron microscopes at the National Botanical Research Institute in Lucknow (India) on the effects of air pollution on leaf surface structures (JAFRI et al., 1979; KULSHRESHTHA et al., 1980; SRIVASTAVA et al., 1980 and 1982; YUNUS and AHMAD, 1980 and 1981; YUNUS et al., 1979 and 1982).

On the basis of the results of these studies, they recommend using the micromorphological leaf characteristics and their modifications as indicators of air pollution as listed in Table 4.

YUNUS et al. (1979) examined, among other tissues, the epidermis of Ricinus communis (castor-oil plant) populations in four different pollution areas and one control area. A scanning electron microscope was used to determine the frequency of stomata, epidermal cells and idioblasts, stomatal size, and the stomatal index (Is).

Table 4: Modifiable leaf surface traits and their responses to air pollution.



Epicuticular wax

Deposition, ornamentation (tubes, rods, granules and plates)


Thickness, configuration of striations, folds, leaching, etc.

Epidermal cells

Frequency; size; cell wall thickening; cell injury, necrotic lesions; particulates,



Frequency; size; abnormal, degenerated/aborted stomata; size of openings


Frequency; size; degeneration or disorganization

Special features

Idioblasts (size, shape and frequency); cystoliths (size, shape and frequency)

IS = S x 100 / (E + S)

S = number of stomata
E = number of epidermal cells

The work with the electron microscope was done in England, however.

DEBNATH & NAYAR ( I 983/lndia) also studied the effect of gaseous emissions on the number and size of stomata in nine different tree species.

MISHRA (1982) observed morphological changes (in the shoot length, leaf surfaces and fruit sizes) and modifications of the epidermis (trichome length and density, stomatal frequency and size) in two Commelina hengalensis ("Diya-meneriya") populations in two areas in Kanpur with different levels of SO2 pollution (Figure 10).

BHIRAVAMURTHY et al. ( I 985/lndia) used different staining techniques for microscopic examination of changes in the epidermis of Cassia tora ("peti-tora" or "sennes") (an annual herbaceous mesophyte) and Pergularia daemia (Asclepiadaceae) (a perennial succulent) that had been exposed to emissions from a fertilizer factory. The leaf characteristics studied were:

- Specific weight per unit area (mg/cm2)
- Leaf thickness (mm)
- Thickness of epidermis (mm)
- Thickness of cuticle (mm)
- Stomatal frequency, stomatal index and stomatal size
- Frequency of epidermal cells
- Frequency of abnormal and dead cells

The authors characterized the chosen methods as being cost-effective, easy to perform, and yielding clear results, being effective for determining the extent of air pollution in large parts of a given area; however, they failed to take into account the importance of orographic, edaphic and climatic factors.

Figure 10: Variations in the gross morphological and leaf epidermal characteristics of Commelina bengalensis populations from two different polluted sites in Kanpur, India.

Automobile exhaust and particulate pollution in urban areas

For the purpose of assessing the degree of contamination in the city of Seoul, LEE et al. ( 1982/South Korea) performed a mapping of lichens within the urban zone. The area was divided up into a grid of squares measuring 4 x 4 km, and the incidence of lichens on trees was recorded. 10 to 20 trees with a bole diameter of > 20 cm were studied in each square. Since it was not possible to apply the IAP method and the ecological index Q for procedural reasons, the authors drew up their own 4-point rating scale:

0: No lichens present
1: Low frequency, individual lichen individuals very small
2: Frequency high, but individuals small
3: High frequency and large lichen thalli
10 lichen families with a total of 13 genera and 20 species were found in Seoul. Of the 80 surveyed squares, 10 had no lichens at all.

Figure 11: Degree of contamination based on lichen zones, and the measured SO2 concentrations in the city of Seoul.

In 1979, automatic SO2 gas analyses were carried out at 14 sites in the city. The results are depicted in Figure 11. A comparison with the map of lichen zones showed that lichens with a normal threshold value of around 30 ppb of SO2 occurred in the study areas with a SO2 concentration of 100 ppb. The authors speculated that orographic factors had not been taken into account sufficiently when measuring the SO2 concentrations, and call attention to the fact that the lichens could be utilized for more reliable long-term monitoring of air pollution levels.

THROWER (1980) proceeded in a similar way in Hong Kong. By applying the method advanced by GILBERT (1974), but with a simplified rating scale, he was able to show that the distribution of tropical lichen species is clearly influenced by the presence of power plants and heavy industry. As in the temperate climatic zones, the vitality of lichens and the number of lichen species increased at greater distances from contaminant sources.

LI DENG-KE (1986/China) investigated the possibility of utilizing liverworts for monitoring the air quality in Shanghai. He mapped the number of liverwort species occurring in areas of the province with different air pollution levels. In all, 39 liverwort families were identified in the study area, with 87 genera and 154 species. In less heavily polluted zones up to 55% of these species were observed, while only 13 - 18% of them occurred in the city center and in industrial areas.

The author points out that it is not yet possible in China to carry out analytical measurements on the scale which would be necessary in order to monitor the quality of the air. Consequently, because of the low costs involved and the high sensitivity of the plants, liverwort mappings represent a suitable method of assessing air pollution.

BHATNAGAR et al. (1985/lndia) and VORA et al. (1986/India) carried out experiments in the urban district of Ahmedabad with the aim of identifying plant species which are sensitive and resistant to urban and industrial particulate contamination. While BHATNAGAR and coworkers investigated the chlorophyll content of the leaves of 9 different arboreous plants as a function of the intensity of particulate pollution, VORA et al. studied the same plant species in order to determine the effect of dustfall on soluble sugar content. For 4 of these plant species, Table 5 and Figure 12 illustrate the relationship between leaf surface characteristics and the ability of the plants to trap or filter out dust particles from the air.

Table 5: Filtering ability and sensitivity to particulate contamination of four different plant species.

Plant species

Leaf position Leaf surface

Filtering ability


Aelianthus excelsa






Ficus religiosa (fig tree)




Cordia myxa (Boraginaceae)




Nyctanthus arbortristis ("night-flowering jasmine")




Figure 12: Dustfall on the leaves of Aelianthus excelsa, Ficus religiosa, Cordia myxa and Nyctanthus arbortristis and its effect on total chlorophyll and total sugar content.


On the following pages, all of the surveyed publications are compiled in the form of a table, separately for each country.

The publications are organized according to the different monitoring approaches and bioindicator types used.

3.1 India

Active monitoring

Cumulative bioindicators:

Plant species


Methods and/or


and/or source


Study area

Cynodon dactylon


Pb content in plants and


Alstonia scholaris


soil, biomass, leaf,

New Delhi

Nerium indicum



Eugenia jambolana

chlorophyll content

Sensitive bioindicators:

Plant species


Methods and/or


and/or source


Study area

Medicago sativa

SO2, NO2 and

Biomass, length growth,



sulfur content

MUKHERJEE in press

New Delhi

Various species


Pollen bioassay,


pollen germination,

pollen tube growth

Ipomaea carnea

Fertilizer factory


CHAPHEKAR et al. 1985


Passive monitoring Cumulative bioindicators:

Plant species


Methods and/or


and/or source


Study area

Zea mays

Cement dust;

Leaf surface, growth


cement factory

height, size and number


of spikes,

water capacity,


conductivity and

pore size

distribution of the soil



Pb content in

AGRAWAL et al.



plants and soil

1980 a+b



Baroda city

Nerium indicum


Pb content of leaves




New Delhi



Cynodon dactylon


Fluoride content in

MEENAKSHY et al. 1981


air and plant


fertilizer factory


Sensitive bioindicators.

Plant species


Methods and/or


and/or source


Study area

All site


Assessment of





visible damage


BORALKAR in press

Glass industry

Karad, Maharashtra



Biomass, leaf surface,



Aluminum factory

chlorophyll content


Triticum aestivam

Cement dust;

Qualitative and

SINGH & RAO 1980

Cement factory

quantitative grain analysis,

biomass, chlorophyll


Calotropis procera


Chlorophyll a, b

BHATNAGAR et al. 1985

Aelianthus excelsa





Ficus religiosa

F. bengalensis

F. drupacea

Polyalthia longifolia

Cordia myxa

Terminalia catappa

Plant species


Methods and/or


and/or source


Study area

Calotropis procera


Sugar content

VORA et al. 1986

Aelianthus excelsa





Ficus religiosa

F. bengalensis

F. drupacea

Polyalthia longifolia

Cordia myxa

Terminalia catappa

Mangifera indica

General Industry

Microscopic studies


Ficus bengalensis


Ficus religiosa

Psidium guayova

Syzygium jambos



Minusops elengi

Alstonia scholaris




SO2 and coal dust;

Morphologic and



Coal-fired power plant

microscopic studies


Cassia tora

SO2, H2S,

Microscopic studies


Pergularia daemia


of leaf epidermis


Fertilizer factory

Ricinus communis

H2S, CH4;

Scanning electron

YUNUS et al. 1979

Sewage canal

microscope studies

of epidermal traits

3.2 China

Active monitoring
Cumulative bioindicators:

Plant species


Methods and/or


and/or source


Study area

Various tree species,


Sulfur content of leaves,



dust accretion


Sophora japanica


Sophora spp.

Pinus spp.

Sensitive bioindicators.

Plant species


Methods and/or


and/or source


Study area

Tradescantia sp.


Nucleolus test,

DUN WAN-RU et al.


frequency of nucleoli


Petunia hybrida


Assessment of leaf



Oil refinery






Dianthus barbatus



Tulipa gesneriana



Pittosporum tobira





Sulfur factory

sulfur content,



peroxidase and

Nerium indicum

isoenzyme contents

Michelia alba




Passive monitoring

Cumulative bioindicators:

Plant species


Methods and/or


and/or source


Study area



Infrared photography,


sulfur, fluoride and


chloride contents,

pH values of bark

Populus spp.


Pb content of leaves


Salix spp.

1984 Shenyang

Robinia spp.

Various tree


Sulfur content of leaves,


species, incl.:

dust accretion


Sophora japanica


Sophora spp.

Pinus spp.



Sulfur content of leaves



Not specified


Sulfur content of leaves



Guang Zhou

Plant species


Methods and/or


and/or source


Study area


Lead, Copper,

Heavy metal



chromium, Zinc

content of


bark and leaves


Herbaceous plants


Fluoride content in air


Iron and steel

and plant samples




Various tree species


Ligustrum lucidum


Fluoride content in



Steel, glass

air and plant samples



and thermos

Hang Zhou





No additional information is provided in the available articles

Sensitive bioindicators:

Plant species


Methods and/=


and/or source


Study area






Salix motsudana f.

HCl, SO2;






Ulmus pumila

and steel factory

Acer negundo

Prunus persica


Fluoride content in ah,


P. Armeniaca


soil and plant samples


Allium ascalonicum

Allium sativum

3.3 Hong Kong

Passive monitoring
Cumulative bioindicators:

Plant species


Methods and/or


and/or source


Study area

Alocasia odora


Pb content of plants

HO & TAI 1979

Mikania guaco

Automobile exhaust



Pb content in soil and

WONG & TAM 1978


Automobile exhaust

plant samples

B. parachinensis

Sensitive bioindicators:

Plant species


Methods and/or


and/or source


Study area

All site vegetation

SO2; Sulfur factory

Mapping, assessment,

WONG 1978

soil parameters


General Industry



3.4 Other countries

Passive monitoring Cumulative bioindicators:

Plant species Pollutant(s)

Methods and/or


and/or source


Study area

Site vegetation Mercury

Hg content of




Sensitive bioindicators:

Plant species Pollutant(s)

Methods and/or


and/or source


Study area

Lichens SO2


LEE et al. 1982

South Korea

4. Conclusions

Active monitoring is clearly underrepresented in the surveyed countries. Only 22 - 26% of the publications from India and China deal with this approach to bioindication, and no studies at all on this aspect are available from Hong Kong, Thailand or South Korea. The problems involved are apparently associated with technical aspects of monitoring the established measurements stations and with the required standardization of procedures. In one study involving only 5 measurement sites, the authors (BORALKAR & MUKHERJEE, in press/lndia) pointed out the difficulties posed by management and supervision, and in particular the problems involved in providing a uniform water supply to the exposed plants. On the whole, insufficient information was supplied on fumigation conditions (FANG CAI-GIN & DUAN JIGUANG 1982/China, EIAS/1/1985-1986/lndia and CHAPHEKAR et al. 1985/India).

Equally little attention was paid to hydrocarbons and to photochemical oxidants. The latter class of pollutants comprises a special case in the sense that no component storage takes place. The extent of contamination can only be evaluated by using active monitoring to observe the incidence of typical symptoms.

A far larger number of publications deals with passive monitoring. This approach was used mainly to assess certain kinds of pollution within narrowly defined areas, serving to delimit and characterize the zone of influence of a contaminant source or to identify areas or urban zones with differing degrees of pollution. In some of the articles, information was given on the ability of individual plant species to filter out heavy metals, particulates or cement dust, and their potential significance for helping to prevent health hazards for humans discussed (FANG CAI-GIN & DUAN JI-GUANG, 1982/China; EIAS/1/1985-1986/lndia; BHATNAGAR et al. 1985/India; and VORA et al. 1986/lndia). The problem of bioconcentration of contaminants in the nutrient cycle was also dealt with (MEENAKSHY et al. 1981/lndia and SUCKCHAROEN 1980/Thailand).

The techniques and methods used correspond largely to those used in western industrialized nations. In a few cases, coauthors from western countries participated (YUNUS, AHMAD and GALE, 1979/lndia), the studies were conducted by foreign scientists in an Asian country (THROWER 1980/Hong Kong), or the inspiration for conducting the study in the first place was obtained by the author during a stay abroad (LEE et al. 1982/South Korea and SUCKCHAROEN 1980/Thailand). In some cases, the chemical analyses (SUCKCHAROEN 1980/Thailand) and electron-microscopic examinations (YUNUS et al. 1979/India) were carried out in Europe or North America.

The focus was on measurement of yields, assessment of macroscopically visible damage, morphological studies, light- or electron microscopic examinations, chemical analyses (of heavy metals, fluoride and sulfur content), and physiological measurements. In this context it should be noted that analysis of physiological parameters for assessment of the pollution situation can only be recommended if the stress factor "transport to the measuring station" can be eliminated. It is not apparent from the articles whether sufficient consideration was given to this aspect.

Only a few lichen, moss and liverwort mappings were carried out. However, THROWER (1980/Hong Kong) was able to show with his studies that the response of tropical lichen species to atmospheric pollution is similar to that of temperate varieties. Thus, lichen zones develop which reflect air pollution levels.

One attempt was made to utilize phytosociological mapping to obtain information on air pollution (WONG 1978/Hong Kong). It would be appropriate to continue this work by carrying out detailed research on plant successions, following the example of recent successful studies in western countries on continually observed study areas within the scope of endeavors to compile environmental impact inventories for certain pollutants.

The advantages of passive monitoring are that relatively little equipment is required and that the reactions of the bioindicators can be relatively dependably used to infer the condition of other organisms at the same site. A disadvantage of this method is that the sensitivity and ability to respond of a given plant individual is strongly dependent on its genetic disposition and on the conditions under which it has grown to maturity. For this reason, additional data is required on pollutant concentrations, the climate, soil parameters, etc., as well as information on the condition, chemical composition and reaction of the plants in order to permit interpretation of the results.

In many of the surveyed studies, an exceedingly one-dimensional approach was taken that failed to give adequate consideration to the complex functional processes of the organisms and their mutual interreactions. Two extreme examples of this are the studies by BORALKAR (1980/lndia) and CHAPHEKAR (1972/lndia). They merely assessed the leaf damage of all of the site vegetation along a transect and attributed the observed damage to pollutant emissions, without performing any chemical analyses on plant or soil samples. Climatic and soil parameters were ignored completely.

The importance of orographic and edaphic factors, climatic conditions and plant attributes - e.g. differing propensities of leaf surfaces to trap airborne particles- was only recognized and incorporated by WONG (1978/Hong Kong), HO & TAI (1979/Hong Kong) and MEENAKSHY et al. (1981/lndia).

The majority of the studies made only a first step towards fulfilling the conditions which must be met for successful analysis of air pollution over an entire area. In order to corroborate the results and facilitate their interpretation, it is essential for standardization of the test conditions to be optimized and for a comprehensive study to be made of meteorological and microclimatic factors.

Finally, on the basis of the results of numerous fumigation experiments and the Asian publications surveyed here, concrete proposals for phytomonitoring techniques can be made, in particular for active monitoring:

The reactions of Oryza sativa (rice) and Pharbitis nil (morning glory) to different pollution levels are sufficiently well known from a large number of fumigation and open-site experiments. In the studies by MATSUNAKA (1977/Japan), Pharbitis nil is utilized as a sensitive bioindicator in a passive monitoring approach. This species responds to high ozone burdens with chlorosis, necrosis and curling of its leaves. Extensive studies on the effect of O3 on its epidermis, chloroplasts, ribosomes and mitochondria (NOUCHI et al. 1977/Japan), and assessment of leaf damage following exposure to different ozone concentrations (NOUCHI & AOKI 1979/Japan), have provided additional data which permit evaluation of the potential of this plant species as a bioindicator.

A great deal is also known about the sensitivity and reactions of Oryza sativa to air pollution. FUJINUMA & AIGA (1980/Japan) established that the rice varieties Nihonbare and Kinmaze react sensitively to ozone and sulfur dioxide. Their sensitivity to NO2 is significantly lower. The effect of ozone on

Oryza sativa was also investigated by NAKAMURA & OTA (1975 and 1977/Japan). They described the macroscopic damage caused by fumigation. YAMAZOE & MAYUMI (1977/Japan) studied the effect of NO2, O3 and SO2 fumigation on rice leaves. Similar studies were performed by AGRAWAL et al. (1982/lndia). They studied chlorophyll and carotenoid contents, and assessed leaf damage after exposure to SO2.

On the basis of the results of the above-mentioned studies, it can be assumed that Pharbitis nil is suitable as a sensitive bioindicator for ozone and Oryza sativa for active monitoring of ozone and SO2. We recommend proceeding in accordance with VDI guideline 3792, sheet I (1978). This source contains both guidelines for fumigation and a description of a semiautomatic technique for supplying the plants with water.

In a large number of independently performed studies, Nerium indicum ("kaner") has demonstrated a high filtering capacity and low sensitivity to atmospheric contaminants (EIAS/1/1985- 1986/lndia; BORALKAR et al. in press; and YIAN LI-YING et al. 1985/China). Under standardized fumigation conditions, it could therefore be used as a cumulative indicator within the scope of an active monitoring approach.



AGRAWAL, M., 1985. Plant factors as indicators of SO2 and 03 pollutants. Symp. Biomonitoring State Environ.: 225231.

AGRAWAL, M.; P.K. NANDI and D.N. RAO, 1982. Effect of ozone and sulphur dioxide pollutants separately and in mixture on chlorophyll end carotenoid pigments of Oryza sativa. Water,AirandSoilPollution 18 (4): 449-454.

AGRAWAL, Y.K.; M.P. PATEL and S.S. MERH, 1981. Research report: Lead in soils and plants: its relationship to traffic volume and proximity to highway (Lalbag, Baroda City).lnter.J. Environmental Studies 16: 222-224.

AGRAWAL, Y.K.; G. PRAKASH; VIRENDRA PAL SINGH and V. SINGH, 1980. Some effects of fluoride pollutant on the seed growth and productivity in Pisum sativum. Science and Culture (India), 46 (4): 135- 136.

AGRAWAL, Y.K.; K.P.S. RAJ; S.J. DESAI; S.G. PATEL and S.S. MERH, 1980. Effect of lead from motor-vehicle exhausts on plant and soil along a major thoroughfare in Baroda City. Inter. J. Environmental Studies 14 (4): 313315.

AHMAD, K.J. and M. YUNUS, 1985. Leaf-surface characteristics as indicators of air pollution. Symp. Biomonitoring State Environ.: 254-257.

BANERJEE, A.; R.K. SARKAR and S. MUKHERJI, 1983. Reduction in soluble protein and chlorophyll contents in a few plants as indicators of automobile exhaust pollution. Intern. J. Environmental Studies 20: 239-243.

BHATNAGAR, A.R.; A.B. VORA and T.S. PATEL, 1985. Measurement of dustfall on leaves in Ahmedabad and its effects on chlorophyll. Indian J. Air Pollution Control, 6 (2): 77-90.

BHIRAVAMURTHY, P.V; P.V. KUMAR; P. RETHY and Y.V. ANURADHE, 1985. Foliar traits as indicators of air pollution in Cassia tora L. and Pergularia daemia (Forsk.) Blatt.&McC. Symp. Biomonitoring State Environ.: 249253.

BORALKAR, D.B., in press: Effects of atmospheric pollution due to glass industry on plants in Karad, Maharashtra.

BORALKAR, D.B. and U. MUKHERIEE, in press: Use of alfalfa plants for the ambient air quality monitoring in the city of Delhi.

BORALKAR, D.B.; U. MUKHERJEE and S.B. SINGH, in press: Increase of lead concentration in ambient air during the IX. Asian Games. New Delhi, 1982, as indicated by the plants.

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DAS, T.M., 1985. Lower and higher plant groups as indicators of air pollution. Symp. Biomonitoring State Environ.: 232-234.

DEBNATH, H.S. and M.P. NAYAR, 1983. Comparative studies on the stomata of some arboreal taxa in the industrial area and non-industrial area of greater Calcutta. Indian J. Bot. 6 (1): 58-60.

EIAS/1/1985-1986: Impact of autoexhaust lead pollution on vegetation in union territory of Delhi Ecological Impact Assessment Series.

JAFRI, S.; K. SRIVASTAVA and K.J. AHMAD, 1979. Environmental pollution and epidermal structure in Syzygium cuminii (L.) Skeel. Indian J. Air Pollut. Control (2): 74-77.

KULSHRESTHA, K.; M. YUNUS; A.K. DWIVEDI and K.J. AHMAD, 1980. Effect of air pollution on the epidermal traits of Jasminium sambac Ait. New Botanist (7): 193- 197.

LAL, B. and R.S. AMBASHT, 1980. Effect of cement dust pollution on plants of Psidium guayava. Indian J. Environ. HLTH 22 (3): 231 -237.

LAL, B. and R.S. AMBASHT, 1981. Impairment of chlorophyll content in leaves of Diospyrus melanoxylon by fluoride pollution. Water, Air and Soil Pollution ( 16): 361 -365.

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PERIASAMY, K. and M. VIVEKANANDAN, 1982. Morphological and physiological effect of coal particle pollution on some angiosperms. Comp. Physiol. Ecol. 7 (3): 157- 160.

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PRASAD, B.J. and D.N. RAO, 1981. Effects of SO2 exposure on carbohydrate contents, phytomass and caloric values of wheat plants. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 16 (3): 287-291.

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SHETYE, R.P. and S.B. CHAPHEKAR, 1978. An inexpensive method for the determination of airborne dusts. Proc. Symp. Man and His Environment, Bombay (in press).

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SINGH, S.N. and D.N. RAO, 1980. Ecophysiological responses of eggplants to 03, SO2 and a mixture of these two gases. In: 5th Intern. Clean Air Congress Buenos Aires, Argentina, 20-26 Oct. 1986.

SINGH, S.N. and D.N. RAO, 1980. Studies of the effects of SO2 pollution on Phaseolus aureus plants. In: 5th Intern. Clean Air Congress Buenos Aires, Argentina, 20-26 Oct. 1986.

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SRIVASTAVA, K.; S. JAFRI and K.J. AHMAD, 1982. Effect of air pollution on cuticular features of Croton sparsiflorus Morong. New Botanist (9): 27-29.

VARSHNEY, C.K., 1985. Pollen bioassay for air quality monitoring. Symp. Biomonitoring State Environ.: 246-248.

VARSHNEY, S.R.K. and C.K. VARSHNEY, 1981. Effect of sulphur dioxide on pollen germination and pollen tube growth. Environmental Pollution A, (24): 87-92.

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CHENG DONG-JI et al., 1983. Monitoring and assessing fluoride pollution in atmosphere with trees in Hang Zhou. Journal of Environment Science (5): 49-52.

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DUN WAN-AU; DONG BAOXIAN and LIU JUNYAN, 1985. The effect of lead pollution monitoring by chromosome distortion of plant cells. Environmental Science in China 5 (1): 45 -49.

DENG RUI-WEN, 1985. The effects of fluoride pollution by an Al smeltery on plants in Lan-Zhou. Acta Phytophysiologica et Geobatanica Sinica (2): 132-141.

FANG CAI-GIN and DUAN JI-GUANG, 1982. Problems of woods for purifying SO2 in the ambient air. Journal of Environment Science (4): 35-38.

GAO DE and LIU HUANZHI, 1985. Influence of air fluoride pollution on herbages. Journal of Ecology (3): 5-9.

HE YAN-LING and JIA XIU-FENG, 1986. The effect of air pollution by chloride and sulphur dioxide on the soluble carbohydrate in common tree leaves in the north of China. Plant Physiology Communications (1): 22-24.

JIANG MEI-ZHEN, 1983. Effects of sulphur dioxide in the ambient air on the flowers. Journal of Environment Science(1): 39-40.

LI DENG-KE, 1986. The application of liverworts in environmental monitoring. Shanghai Environmental Science (4): 23-24.

QIAN DAFU et al., 1984. Mulberry silkworm ecosystem affected with fluoride. Journal of Envirottment Science (1): 7-11.

SHI GUANO, 1986. A preliminary study on the selection of anti-atmospheric F-pollution tree species in urban district. Journal of Ecology 5 (1): 48-49.

SONG, YONGCHANG and GU, YONGJIE, 1988: Assessment of heavy metal content in city trees to monitor air pollution. Urban Environm. and Urban Ecol. 1: 34-38.

WANG HUAN-XIAO and WU YU-SHU, 1981. The changes of leaf liquid pH and cell membrane permeability after being harmed by chlorine. Environmental Science in China (5): 61 -64.

YIAN LI-YING and ZHU TIANJI, 1983. Using plants to monitor and evaluate the level of sulphur dioxide pollution in the atmosphere of Guang Zhou City. Acta Phytoecologica et Geobotanica Sinica 7 (4): 265-272.

YIAN LI-YING et al., 1985. Effects of air around a sulphur factory on peroxidase in the leaves of plants. Joutnal of Environment Science 6 (2): 7- 12.

ZANG CHUN-XING et al., 1984. Lead content in leaves of woody plants as an index of air lead pollution. Journal of Ecology (4): 5-9.


HO, Y.B. and K.M. TAI, 1979. Effect of rain on lead levels in roadsides vegetation in Hong Kong. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 23 (4/5): 658-660.

THROWER, S.L., 1980. Air pollution and lichens in Hong Kong. Lichenologist 12 (3): 305-311.

WONG, M.H., 1978. An ecological survey of the effect of sulfur dioxide emitted from an acid work factory. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 19 (6): 715-723.

WONG, M.H. and F.Y. TAM, 1978. Lead contamination of soil and vegetables grown near motorways in Hong Kong. J. Environ. Sci. Health, A,13 (1): 13-22.


FUJINUMA, Y. and 1. AIGA, 1980. Selected rice strains as an indicator plant for air pollution. In: SASA, M.: Studies on the effects of air pollutants on plants and mechanisms of phytotoxicity. Research report from the National Institute for Environmental Studies (11): 255-262.

FURUKAWA, A. et al., 1980. The effect of SO2 on net phytosynthesis in sunflower leaf. In: SASA, M.: Studies on the effects of air pollutants on plants and mechanisms of phytotoxicity. Research report from the National Institute for Environmental Studies (11): 1 -8.

FURUKAWA, A. et al., 1980. Interspecific difference in resistance to sulfur dioxide. In: SASA, M.: Studies on the efforts of air pollutants on plants and mechanisms of phytotoxicity. Research report from the National Institute for Environmental Studies (11): 113 - 126.

KATASE, M. et al., 1983. The relationship between absorption of SO2 and inhibition of photosynthesis in several plants. Bot. Mag. Tokyo (96): 1 - 13.

MATSUNAKA, S., 1977. Utilization of morning glory as an indicator plant for photochemical oxidants in Japan. Proc. of IV Int. Clean Air Congress Tokyo: 91 -94.

MATSUSHIMA, 1., 1977. Sensitivities of plants to ethylene and nitrogen dioxide and the characteristic changes in fine structure of the cell. In: KASUGA, S. et al.: Proc. of IV Int. Clean Air Congress Tokyo: 112 - 115.

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Chemical Substances and Compounds















Calcium fluoride


Calcium sulfate


Carbon dioxide


Chlordane 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,8 -octochloro-2,3,3a-4,7,7a-hexa-hydro-4,7-endomethanoindene



Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane: DDD=(2,2-bis(para-chlorophenyl)- 1, 1 -dichlo

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane: DDT=(2,2-bis(para-chlorophenyl)- 1, 1, 1 -trichlo

Dichlorodiphenyldichlorolethylene: DDE=(2,2-bis(para-chlorophenyl)- 1, 1 -dichloroethylene)

(Dimethylmercury) Endrine (C12H8OCl6) 1,2,3,410, 1 0-hexachloro-6,7-epoxiI ,4,4a,5,6,7,8,8 a-; octabydroendo- 1,4-endo-5,8-dimenthanoaphtalene






Hexane: C6H14

Hydrochloric acid


Hydrogen fluoride


Hydrogen sulfide






Lindane: C6H6Cl6 (gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane)










HgCH3, Hg(CH3)2


M2 MoO4, MoO4--





Nitrogen dioxide


Nitrogen oxides



PO4--, Me3PO4



Pentachlorophenol PCP (C6Cl5OH)

Pentacyclic triterpenes: Squalenoids; a group of organic compounds containing a skeleton of 30 carbon atoms and composed of 6 isoprene units, with 5 carbon rings. e.g. urasane (a-amyrin)

Perchloric acid

HClO4; also known as Fraude's reagent

Perchlor Ethylene


Perchloroethylene: PER, tetrachloroethylene. (CCl2CCl2)



Polychlorinated biphenyl


- Normally a multitude of different PCB's, characterized by varying extent of chlorination: position and number of Cl-atoms connected to the C-atoms of the biphenyl may vary. These PCB's differ in quality and quantity of impact on living organisms. In many cases they are accompanied by other toxic substances such as dioxines.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: Hydrocarbon molecule with two or more closed rings, such as naphtalene; also known as polynuclear hydrocarbons



Radioactive isotope of cobalt


Radioactive isotopes of plutonium

Pu-238 etc.

Sodium chloride



Cycloalkanes derived from a sterol. Any compound with one or more sulfur atoms in which the sulfur is connected directly to a carbon, metal or other non-oxygen atom; for example, sodium sulfide (Na2S)





Sulfur dioxide












In some mosses of the subclass Eubrya, having the sporophyte at the end of the stem, thus exhibiting an erect habit.

Active monitoring

Cf. text by Ellenberg - Fig. 4.


Relating to or occurring in the air or above the ground.

Alkaline collector traps

Artificial surfaces coated with an alkaline medium to absorb acidic atmospheric components.

Allochthonous nutrients

Nutrients that are transported from elsewhere into an ecosystem.

Allochthonous organic matter

Organic matter of external origin, such as fallen leaves in a brook.


An extrusive, usually dark greyish, rock consisting essentially of plagioclase feldspar with dark ferromagnesian minerals and little or no quartz.


The common name for members of the plant division Magnoliophyta.


A negatively charged atom or group of atoms, or a radical that moves towards the positive pole (anode) during electrolysis.

Aquatic system

Cf. text by Bretthauer.


Members of the large phylum of the Arthropoda, comprising invertebrate animals with jointed legs and a segmented body; e.g. insects, spiders and myriapods.


The incorporation or conversion of nutrients into protoplasm that in animals follows digestion and absorption, and in higher plants involves both photosynthesis and root absorption.

Assimilation organs

(Mainly) leaves.

Atomic absorption spectroscopy

AAS - physical method of determining heavy metal contents.

Autotrophic soil algae

Self-nourishing green algae living in soil (capable of synthesizing organic nutrients directly from simple inorganic substances).

Azonal soils

Soils that have developed under special conditions not typical of the surrounding area, mostly influenced by the action of wind and water (e.g. the soils of valley bottoms and sand dunes).

Background contamination

The natural heavy metal content in the stones and soils of an area that is being investigated to determine pollution of it with the same metals.

Bar diagram

Block diagram depicting data from measurements.


An optical instrument with two eyepieces.

Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD)

The quantity of oxygen that organisms need to mineralize degradable organic matter, especially in the breakdown of organic matter by microorganisms in a water body.


A community of biologically integrated and in terdependent plants and animals.


Organic compounds that have been broken down by microorganisms.

Biological indication

Cf. text by Ellenberg.


The amount of living matter (expressed per unit area or volume of habitat).


A complex biotic community covering a large geographic area and characterized by the distinctive life forms of important climax species.

Examples: tundra, taiga, tropical rain forest.


Cf. text by Ellenberg - Fig. 4.


All of the living organisms of a given region, including flora, fauna and microorganisms.


A habitat that is uniform in its principal climatic, soil and biotic conditions (e.g. a sandy desert).


Biochemical oxygen demand (cf. above).

C/N ratio

The quantitative relation between carbon and nitrogen.


The process of heating an organic material to a high temperature (but without fusing it) in order to drive out volatiles or affect it in some other way (e.g. oxidation or pulverization).

Canopy roughness

The unevenness or vertical geometric variations in the upper surface of a plant stand (e.g. a forest).


A technique in which a radioactive isotope of carbon (carbon-14) is employed as a tracer in chemical and biochemical research. Because this isotope is present in all carbon-containing matter, it is useful for dating archaeological specimens, fossils, etc.

Carotenoid content

Cf. text by Arndt.


Pigments that occur in plants and some animal tissues; they include carotene, xanthophylls and other fat-soluble pigments.


An enzyme that occurs in plant and animal tissues; it decomposes hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.


A positively charged atom or group of atoms, or a radical that moves to the negative pole (cathode) during electrolysis.

Checkerboard pattern

A regular pattern of squares like that of a checkerboard.


Insects belonging to the family of slender, long winged, long-legged, small and very delicate nemotoceran Diptera, commonly called midges or true midges. They are scavengers, not blood suckers.


A type of cell plastic occurring in the green parts of plants; they contain chlorophyll pig ments and play a role in photosynthesis and protein synthesis.


An abnormal condition in plants characterized by the absence of green pigments; it can becaused by lack of light or a deficiency of iron or magnesium. (Cf. text by Arndt).

Chlorotic injury

A disease condition of green plants, manifesting itself as yellowing of the green parts of a plant.


A single-celled animal with cilia on its surface.

Combined exposure

Exposure to different toxins in combination.

Compacted soils

Soils with few openings through which exchange of gases or percolation of water can take place.


A plant of the large Compositae family of dictyledonous plants with flower heads composed of dense clusters of small flowers surrounded by a ring of small leaves or bracts; the daisy, thistle, artichoke, chrysanthemum, etc. belong to this family.

Cumulative biological indicators

Cf. footnote to text by Ellenberg - p. 18, Fig. 4.

Coupling analysis

A special method for determining saprobity levels by using only a small number of very characteristic indicator species; only employed in Baden-Wuerttemberg (Federal Republic of Germany).

Cushion plants

Plants with globular or regularly rounded surfaces adapted to minimize water losses from transpiration, typical of high mountainous areas affected by frequent, strong winds.

Cumulative bioindicators

Cf. texts by Ellenberg and Steubing.


A concretion of calcium carbonate arising from the cell walls of modified epidermal cells in some flowering plants.


The loss of leaves in plants caused by a toxin or some other external effect.


The decomposability of organic matter by the metabolic processes of animals or plants in the soil.


Unicellular algae; common name of the bacilla riophyta. Some are colonial, green or brownish in color (but all contain chlorophyll), with siliceous and often highly sculptured cell walls. They make up much of the producer level in marine and freshwater food chains, and they have contributed to the formation of oil reserves.


Plants belonging to the plant class Dicotylae, all having two cotyledons, i.e. two leaves at the very early stage of life, as opposed to monocotyls.

Diffusion resistance

Stomatal resistance to exchange of gases and vapours.


Of plants, having the staminate and pistillate (male and female) flowers on separate individuals.

Disease vector

An animal, such as an insect, that transmits a disease-producing organism from one host to another.


The disintegration of protoplasm, principally by oxidation.


The chemical composition of the surrounding environment.


The ranges of biological and abiotic factors within which an organism is able to live.


A system made up of a community of plants, microorganisms and animals, along with their physical and chemical environment.


A specialist who works to determine the impacts of pollutants on the environment.


A biotype or a characteristic population of a species of organism resulting from natural selection in a given habitat.


An electrochemical process in which colloidal particles or macromolecules with a net electric charge migrate in a solution under the influence of an electric current; also known as cataphoresis.


Confined to a given region and having originated there.

Enrichment horizons

Soil horizons in which salts such as lime, gypsum or clay accumulate.

Environmental impact inventory

A survey of the influence of polluting substances on the environment.

Environmental specimen

An animal or plant taken as a sample from an ecosystem for analysis. Within the scope of biological monitoring, the sample is designed so as to be representative of that ecosystem.

Epicuticular wax

The superficial layer of wax that covers leaves.


Of plants, growing on the surfaces of rocks and stones, e.g. algae and lichens.


A plant that grows nonparasitically on another plant, deriving moisture and nutrients from the air. Also known as aerophyte. Cf. text by Steubing.

Euryhaline species

Organisms that are capable of tolerating a wide range of saline conditions.


Not narrowly limited by ecological conditions. The opposite condition, when organisms are only able to live within a narrow range of ecological conditions, is called "stenoecic", e.g. a plant that does not tolerate any shade, or a trout that requires oxygen-rich water.


The process by which a body of water or a terrestrial ecosystem becomes rich in plant nutrients; in this volume, reference is principally made to nitrogen and phosphorus.


The combined evaporation of water from the soil surface and transpiration from plants.

Exposure experiments

Experiments in which organisms are exposed to certain environmental conditions, especially pollutants.


The nest of an eagle or other large bird of prey.

Filiform bacteria

Threadlike bacteria.

Flotation processes

The separation of the constituent particles of a mass of pulverized ore by taking advantage of their differing ability to float on a given liquid.


Referring to leaves.


A large, morphologically diverse class of the phylum Mollusca, containing the snails, slugs, limpets, and conchs.

Genus (pi. genera)

A class, kind or group of organisms marked by common characteristics or by one common characteristic, specifically: a category of biol ogical classification ranking between the family and the species, comprising structurally or phylogenetically related species or an isolated species exhibiting unusual differentiation, and designated by a Latin or latinized capitalized singular noun.

Germinative capacity

The capacity to reproduce.


Organs that produce reproductive cells, especially an ovary or testis.


The common name of members of the division Piniphyta; seed-bearing plants having naked ovules at the time of pollination. Example: pine trees.


Living in water or on the bottom of a saline water body.


Salt-loving; thriving under saline conditions.


Thriving only in extremely salt-poor water; also called haloxenic.


Refers to shore plants capable of thriving on salt-impregnated soils.

Halophytic plant communities

Communities of plants growing on salty soils.

Hard cushion bogs

Marches or mires consisting of hard, solid cushion plants (cf. above).


Feeding on plants; plant-eating.


Having more than one form of leaves on the same plant or stem.


Deriving nourishment from organic substances, e.g. parasitic plants and all animals; antonym: autotrophic.

Heterotrophic soil algae

Organisms that nourish themselves by ingesting and breaking down organic matter (these algae are not green).


Living or growing in places with moist air, in many cases on moist or wet soils.


Bees, wasps and the like.


A situation in which considerably more plant nutrients are available in an ecosystem than are needed, thus leading to problems.


A plant cell that differs markedly in shape or function from neighboring cells within the same tissue.

In-site production

Production in position, in its original place; autochthonous production, like algae growing in a brook.

Intercostal zone

The zone between the veins or nerves of a leaf.

Ion-selective electrode

A physicochemical method of measuring ion concentrations.


Any of the electrophoretically distinct forms of an enzyme, representing different polymeric states but having the same function. Also known as isozyme.

Katabatic winds

Cold winds that drop down from high mountains to warmer valleys during the night. Also known as gravity winds.

Large-lobed foliose lichens

Lichens with large, leaf-like lobes.

Leaf necrosis

Localized death of living tissue in leaves.


Red pigment involved in symbiotic fixation of nitrogen from the air by legumes.

Lichen thalli

A group of organisms consisting of fungi and algae growing together symbiotically.

Limnic water

Fresh water in a lake.


The study of the physical, chemical and biological components of fresh water.

Littoral zone

The part of a lake extending from the shore down to the limit for rooted vegetation.


The common name for members of the Hepaticae; small plants, mostly terrestrial, attached to the substrate by rhizoids. Related to hornworts and mosses.

Lotic water

Flowing water, i.e. rivers and streams. Antonym: lentic = standing.


A characteristic type of Mediterranean brush or scrub landscape, the result of centuries of fires and grazing by sheep and goats.


Large aquatic plants, as opposed to phytoplankton and other small algae.


The thalloid liverworts, an order of the class of the Marchantiopsida, having a flat body composed of several distinct tissue layers, smoother walled and tuberculate-walled rhizoids, and male and female sex organs borne on stalks on separate plants.

Metabolic changes

Chemical changes; the sum of the processes by which a given substance is dealt with in an organism.


A product of metabolism or a substance essential to the metabolism of a given organism or metabolic process.


The chemical and physical processes continuously going on in living organisms and cells, comprising those by which assimilated food is built up into protoplasm and those by which organic compounds are used and broken down into simpler substances and waste, with release of energy for all vital purposes.

Metamorphic rocks

Rocks produced by metamorphism (a change in the constitution of rock, especially a pronounced change effected by pressure, heat and water that results in a more compact and more highly crystalline condition). Example: Gneiss.


Membrane-bounded particles that are present in the cytoplasm of all eukaryotic cells. Mitochondria contain enzyme systems which are responsible for providing energy in the form of ATP.


Enhancement of mobility.


Salts of molybdenum containing the group MoO4 or MoO2.


All plants of the class Liliopsida; they have a single cotyledon (the first leaf of the embryo of seed-bearing plants).


A fish family, including the so-called Nile perch.

Moss bag test

Cf. texts by Steubing and Arndt.

Multiple layer palisade

Refers to leaves that have several parenchymal layers of densely packed cells containing many chloroplasts.


Symbiotic associations of the roots of higher plants with a fungus. Singular: Mycorrhiza.

Net primary production (NPP)

The net product of photosynthetic assimilation by a green plant, minus immediate metabolic needs (in energy terms).

Nitrogen cycle

Nitrogen metabolism, atmospheric nitrogen fixation, assimilation of nitrogen into proteins and other organic compounds, and the reverse processes.


Small knoblike structures (e.g. the nodules of grass blades).

Non-homoiothermal terrestrial

Any animal except mammals and birds. The in


tensity of life and activity of these animals de pends on climatic temperature conditions.


A species of atom characterized by the number of protons, number of neutrons, and energy content in the nucleus, or alternatively by the atomic number, mass number, and atomic mass.

Nutrient leaching

The removal of plant-available nutrients from the soil by being washed out by water.


Any of a genus of plants of the goosefoot family, widespread in salty and alkaline areas, usually having silvery foliage and small green flowers.


Penaining to relief factors such as hills, mountains, plateaus, valleys and slopes; describing the surface of the earth.

Osmotic pressure

The applied pressure required to prevent the flow of a solvent across a membrane which of fers no obstruction to passage of the solvent, but does not allow passage of the solute, and which separates a solution from the pure solvent.

Overlapping accumulation periods

Overlapping time spans for the accumulation of toxins in plants.

Oxidophilic organisms

Organisms that live in oxygen-rich waters.

Paleozoic schists

Schists that originated in the era of geological history extending from the beginning of the Cambrian to the close of the Permian.


An association of two kinds of organism in which the parasite is benefited and the host is usually harmed.

Passive monitoring

Cf. text by Ellenberg - Fig. 4.

Peat horizon

Peat layer.


Related to the soil with its living organisms, and including its water, nutrient and other physical components.

Pentacyclic triterpenes

Squalenoids; a group of organic compounds with 5 carbon rings, cf. Iist of chemicals.

Perchloric acid

Cf. Iist of chemicals.


An enzyme that catalyzes reactions in which hydrogen peroxide is an electron acceptor.


"Aufwuchs"; the organisms attached to under water rooted plants.

Persistent halogenated hydrocarbons

Toxic compounds that are nearly impossible to metabolize, etc. DDT and PCBs.


The study of natural phenomena that recur periodically.

Phosphatase activity

The (chemical) activity of enzymes found in body tissues and fluids, that hydrolyze phosphoric acid esters of organic compounds, liberating phosphate ions.

Photochemical oxidant

Any of the chemicals that enter into oxidation reactions in the presence of light or other radiant energy, particularly ultraviolet light.

Photochemical smog

Chemical pollutants in the atmosphere resulting from chemical reactions involving hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight.

Physicochemical measurement

Measurement of both purely physical and chemical properties, changes and reactions as opposed to the biological monitoring approach.

Phytomonitoring methods

Methods by which the amount and impact of pollution can be evaluated using plants as indicator organisms.

Phytosociological survey

Cf. text by Steubing.


Poisonousness to plants.

Plant tissue

An aggregation of cells more or less similar morphologically and functionally.


The family including plantain and ribgrass.


Having the sporophyte in leaf axils along the side of the stem or on lateral branches; refers specifically to mosses.

Pollen germination test

Cf. text by Amdt.

Pollen grain germination

Germination of the haploid microspore of seed bearing plants.

Pollen tube growth

Growth of the pollen tube; a tubular process developed from pollen grain after attachment to stigma, and growing towards the ovule carrying male nuclei to an embryo sac.

Pollution gradients

The rate of regular or graded ascent or descent of pollution.

Pollution response inventory

A survey of bioindication methods or biological measurement approaches.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Organic compounds consisting of two or more hydrocarbon rings; included in many insecticides. Cf. list of chemicals.

Population turnover

The exchange of older organisms (after their death) for younger ones, from the point of view of population dynamics.


Measurement methods for determining stomata! aperture and CO2/H2O gas exchange.


Parts per million


The ecological relationship between food organisms and the organisms that feed on them, if the food is still alive when taken. Typical predators are lions, wolves and goshawks; strictly speaking, however, herbivores are also predators.

Primary producers

Green plants.


A proposed kingdom to include all unicellular organisms lacking a definite cellular arrangement, such as bacteria, algae, diatoms, and fungi.


A diverse phylum of eukaryotic microorganisms; the structure varies from a simple uninucleate protoplast to colonial forms.


A nuclide that exhibits radioactivity.

Regression analysis

A comparative method for identifying the gradual loss of differentiation and function in an organism; a functional relationship among two or more correlated variables that is often empirically determined from data and used above all to predict values of one variable when the values of the others are known.

Relative standard deviation


Remote sensing

The gathering and recording of information without actual contact with the object or area being investigated.

Respiration rate

The rate at which tissues and organisms take up oxygen from their environments and produce carbondioxide.

Rhizome grasses

Grasses with an underground horizontal stem, often thickened and tuber-shaped and possessing buds, nodes and scale-like leaves.


One of the small, complex particles composed of various proteins and three molecules of ribonucleic acid which synthesize proteins within the living cell.


To heat ore to effect some chemical change that will facilitate smelting.

Root zone

The layer of soil within which plant roots occur.

RPC system

The "reducer-producer-consumer" system, a relatively unsuited method for determining water quality.

Salt electrolysis

Induction of chemical changes by passing an electric current through an electrolyte (a non metallic electric conductor in which current is carried by the motion of ions), in this case salt.


Sediment consisting of dead aquatic organisms, principally occurring in eutrophic waters where anaerobic bacteria decompose organic matter by biochemical means.


A plant that lives on decaying organic matter.


A large group of coarse-grained metamorphic rocks which readily split into thin plates or slabs as a result of the alignment of lamellar or prismatic minerals.


Characterized by thick, hard foliage.

Secondary atmospheric pollutants

For instance: ozone, which only emerges under certain climatic and chemical conditions.

Sensitive bioindicators

Cf. text by Ellenberg - Fig. 4.

Sessile ciliates

Ciliates attached to the substrate. Antonym: free-swimming.

Sessile organisms

Organisms attached to the substrate, for instance the common marine mussel Mytilus edulis.

Sheet erosion

Movement of upper soil layers on minimally in clined surfaces, induced by the action of running water.

Siliceous magma

Magma containing silica or silicates.

Soil water capacity

The capacity of the soil to retain water against the pull of gravity.


A taxonomic category ranking immediately below a genus and including closely related, morphologically similar individuals which actually or potentially interbreed.

Specimen tissue

Tissue sampled from an organism ("specimen") that is thought to be representative of the organism or a population or organisms - used here in the context of chemical residue analysis with biological monitors.


Said of organisms which only tolerate changes in their environmental conditions within certain narrow limits.


Modern name: gonanes; a special class of steroids without angular methyl groups at the 10th and 13th carbon atoms.

Stoma (pi. stomata)

A small opening or pore in a surface, especially one of the minute openings in the epidermis of higher plants which are regulated by guard cells and through which gases and water vapor are exchanged between internal spaces and the external atmosphere.

Stomatal density

The number of stomata per unit area.

Stomatal response

The opening width of stomata is regulated by both internal factors (e.g. internal CO2 concen tration and water vapor pressure) and indirectly by external (environmental) factors.

Subarid climate

A climate with a very pronounced dry season of considerable duration and only a few months of scant rainfall.

Subhumid climate

A climate in which a dry season is clearly present but not pronounced.


Insufficient to cause death, not quite lethal (= causing death, deadly), at least for most of the organisms under observation.


The base on which an organism lives, e.g. the soil or a part of another plant (in the case of epiphytes); a substance that is acted upon (e.g. by an enzyme).


A plant with juicy, fleshy tissues adapted to conserve water, covered by a surface that minimizes evapotranspiration.

Synecological information

Information about the structure, development and distribution of ecological communities.

Terrestrial ecosystem

Cf. text by Ellenberg.


Said of waters that are influenced by marine water.

Thallic tissue

Cf. thallus.


A plant tissue or body that is not differentiated into specialized tissue systems or organs such as leaves or stems; it may vary from a single cell to a complex, branching multicellular structure.

Thermal stratification

Tabular strata in standing water (for instance, in most Central European lakes during the summer: warm surface water, medium-temperature boundary layer, cool bottom water), caused by the distinct specific densities of water of differ ent temperatures.


An instrument for measuring and recording variations in atmospheric humidity and temperature.

Third primary quill

The third large feather of the wing of a (large) bird, counting from the body side towards the wing tip.


A poisonous substance, poison.

Transpiration resistance

Resistance to diffusion of water vapor.

Transplanted specimens

Organisms, normally plants, taken from a given stand - naturally grown or artificially raised - and planted or exposed at another place. They are taken for experimental purposes as being 1. an item representative of others in the same class or group, and/or 2. a sample selected for testing, examination, or display.


An appendage occurring on the cuticles of plants, such as hairs and scales.


Of leaves, consisting of three leaflets.

Trophic level

Herbivore, carnivore, parasite, saprovore, etc. Herbivores belong to the "first" trophic level, while predators that feed upon herbivores be long to the "second". Predators that normally feed on other predators are situated on the "third" or even higher levels, e.g. sparrow hawks when feeding on insectivorous birds.

Trophic relationships

Feeding relationships; of or relating to nutrition. Trophic relationships constitute one of the principal relationships among organisms of different species in an ecosystem.


Any of a genus of flagellate protozoans that live as parasites in the blood of human beings and other vertebrates. They are usually transmitted by insect bites, and often cause serious diseases such as sleeping sickness, chagas disease, etc.


Any disease caused by a trypanosome.


Red blood worms, a family of red, tubivolous, oligochaete annelids (worms).


The fine structure of cells as seen with an ultra microscope.

Vascular plant

A plant having vascular bundles for liquid transport, such as phanerogams and Filicales. Mosses or algae are not vascular plants.

VDI Guideline

A guideline of the Association of German Engineers (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure).

Water body

A coherent section of water, i.e. a pond, lake,


Having an exterior structure and a shape that is adapted to dry living conditions.