Epiphytic lichens are well-known indicators of air contamination. The chemical composition of lichens is affected by the concentration of pollutants in the environment. Usually, researchers assess long-term variations in trace elements or other pollutants in the study area, or identify spatial features of air contamination. The aim of this study is to create a database of trace element concentrations in the samples of the epiphytic lichen Hypogymnia physodes
growing in the Kaliningrad region. The database can be used as a “reference point” for monitoring studies. Another objective is to identify the spatial patterns of iron, manganese, nickel, cadmium, silver, lead, strontium, rubidium, and calcium in the Kaliningrad region. With the help of a regular grid, samples of wild lichens were collected from pine and birch trees, 1.2–1.8 m from their bases, in August 2010. One- to two-year-old thalli were used in the chemical analysis. The metals Ag, Cd, Cu, Pb, Ni, Fe, Mn, and Zn were determined by atomic absorption spectrometry AAS (Mn and Fe by flame atomic absorption FA AAS and the others by electro thermal atomisation ETA AAS); the elements Sr, Rb, and Ca were determined by X-ray fluorescence. The concentration of metals in the western coastal area (the Sambian or Kaliningrad Peninsula) is higher than it is in the central and eastern parts of the region. Principal component factor analysis was carried out to detect and characterise different pollution sources. The authors examined the features of spatial distribution of trace elements. The prevailing wind direction is between south and west; therefore, the highest concentrations of trace elements were found on the Sambian peninsula and on the coasts of the Vistula and Curonian Lagoons. The chemical composition of lichens on the Sambian peninsula may have developed under the impact of both local pollution sources—vehicles, thermal energy facilities, and ports—and such factors as trans-boundary traffic and sea spray.
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