Mosses and leaves of vascular plants have been used as bioindicators of environmental contamination by heavy metals originating from various sources. This study aims to compare the metal accumulation capabilities of mosses and vascular species in urban areas and quantify the suitability of different taxa for monitoring airborne heavy metals. One pleurocarpous feather moss species, Haplocladium angustifolium
, and two evergreen tree species, Cinnamomum bodinieri Osmanthus fragrans
, and substrate soil were sampled in the urban area of different land use types in Wuhan City in China. The concentrations of Ag, As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Mo, Ni, V, Pb, and Zn in these samples were analyzed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The differences of heavy metals concentration in the three species showed that the moss species was considerably more capable of accumulating heavy metals than tree leaves (3 times to 51 times). The accumulated concentration of heavy metals in the moss species depended on the metal species and land use type. The enrichment factors of metals for plants and the correlations of metals in plants with corresponding metals in soil reflected that the accumulated metals in plants stemmed mostly from atmospheric deposition, rather than the substrate soil. Anthropogenic factors, such as traffic emissions from automobile transportation and manufacturing industries, were primarily responsible for the variations in metal pollutants in the atmosphere and subsequently influenced the metal accumulation in the mosses. This study elucidated that the moss species H. angustifolium
is relatively more suitable than tree leaves of C. bodinieri
and O. fragrans
in monitoring heavy metal pollution in urban areas, and currently Wuhan is at a lower contamination level of atmospheric heavy metals than some other cities in China.
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