Transplanted lichens in and around the Mount Carmel National Park and the Haifa Bay industrial region in Israel: Physiological and chemical responses

J. Garty*, L. Weissman, Y. Cohen, A. Karnieli, L. Orlovsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the impact of air pollution on the spectral reflectance of the epiphytic lichen Ramalina lacera, indicated by the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), on the integrity of chlorophyll, indicated by the ratio OD435nm/OD415 nm, and on the integrity of cell membranes, indicated by electric conductivity. Data relating to physiological parameters of injury were integrated with data concerning the detrimental deposition of mineral elements. The transplanted lichen, originating in a relatively unpolluted site in Israel, was placed in 17 sites on and around the Carmel Mountain and in 2 sites in an industrial region in the Haifa Bay, northwest Israel, for a period of 10 months. The accumulated amounts of Ca, Ti, Cu, Mg, Fe, Si, Ni, Zn, V, Cr, Mn, CI-, K, F-, Na, Ba, Sr, B, S, P, Al, PO4/3-, SO4/2-, and NO3/- were related to alterations in spectral reflectance and injury caused to chlorophyll and cell membranes. At the end of the period of exposure, the retrieved transplants from the Haifa Bay exhibited low NDVI values and low OD435 nm/OD415 nm ratios, indicating chlorophyll degradation, and high electric conductivity values, indicating damaged cell membranes. NDVI values correlated positively with OD435 nm/OD415 nm ratios and negatively with accumulated amounts of Ba, Cu, Ni, S, SO4/2-, V, and Zn. OD435 nm/OD415 nm ratios correlated negatively with amounts of Ba, Cu, Ni, NO3/-, SO4/2-, and V. Values obtained for electric conductivity correlated positively with amounts of B, Ba, CI-, Cr, Cu, Na, Ni, NO3/-, S, and SO4/2-. Both elemental and ion content and the physiological status of the R. lacera transplants indicated that the greater part of the biomonitoring sites on and around the Carmel Mountain were slightly polluted or unpolluted, whereas the Haifa Bay region was rather polluted. The greater part of the HaifaBay pollution derives from the combustion of heavy fuel oil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-176
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironmental Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Air pollution
  • Cell membranes
  • Chlorophyll
  • Lichen
  • Ramalina lacera


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