LICHENIZED FUNGI PHAEOPHYSCIA (PHYSCIACEAE, ASCOMYCOTA) AS INDICATOR OF AMBIENT AIR HEAVY METAL DEPOSITION, ALONG LAND USE GRADIENT IN AN ALPINE HABITAT OF WESTERN HIMALAYA, INDIASUGAM GUPTA, HIMANSHU RAI, DALIP KUMAR UPRETI, RAJAN KUMAR GUPTA AND PRADEEP KUMAR SHARMA
Alpine habitats in Himalaya have undergone drastic land use change in last decades, resulting in increased anthropogenic pollution discharge in ambient air. Biomonitors such as lichens due to their slow growth rate and longer life span and absorption of nutrients from atmosphere only, are used for studying atmospheric deposition of heavy metals along natural and anthropogenic gradients in various ecosystems. In the current study three species of lichenized fungi Phaeophyscia (P. hispidula, P. primaria and P. constipate) were analysed for heavy metal (Fe, Zn, Cu, Ni) deposition from four sites in Badrinath-Mana land scape along gradients of land use and elevation. Maximum heavy metal deposition was recorded in site with urban land use which minimize in natural grass land. The total heavy metal load (ΣM 4) was found indicative of land use gradient followed by Fe, Zn, Cu and Ni accumulation in lichen thallus. Among the heavy metals analysed iron and zinc were predominantly accumulated followed by copper and nickel. Phaeophyscia hispidula and P. primaria due to their distribution in three of the four sites situated along distinct land use, elevation and pollution gradient were found appropriate bioindicator lichen species for alpine habitats.
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