Validation of New Air
Biomonitoring Techniques for Environmental Monitoring, Assessment and
Background to research
Sutton et al. (2004) have provided a comprehensive review of existing
bioindicator methods for the assessment of atmospheric nitrogen
enrichment on nitrogen deposition and plant ecological response in a
project funded by Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). These
methods could provide an early indication of exposure and ecological
response to nitrogen enrichment and its potential impact on designated
sites for nature conservation. These methods were tested in a
subsequent JNCC funded study by Leith et al. (2005).
SEPA initiated an Environment Improvement Action Plan in 2005 which
aimed to develop SEPA’s capability to utilise the outputs
from these two JNCC studies. The project described in this report,
SNIFFER UKPIR14, was developed in partnership by SEPA and CEH to ensure
that a correct scientific approach was maintained by SEPA’s
own staff during monitoring, assessment and reporting.
Objectives of research
Key findings and
- Promote the transfer of biomonitoring techniques to the
regulatory authorities by developing their ability to conduct
biomonitoring work in-house;
- Validate the repeatability, reproducibility and usability
of selected methods by inter-laboratory comparison;
- Produce protocols for the use of analytical methods (i.e.
selection of sites and the preparation and analysis of plant material);
- Compare the results of biomonitoring with the predictions
of models (e.g. SCAIL (Simple Calculation of Ammonia Impact Limits)
deposition model and thereby characterise the uncertainties of the two
approaches and their concordance.
biomonitoring, Ellenberg, nitrogen deposition, ammonia, habitat.
- SEPA staff gained invaluable field and laboratory
experience during the project. SEPA staff will need to continue to use
these methods if they are to retain this expertise.
- The time available for SEPA staff to perform the
biomonitoring was quite limited, and some parts of the biomonitoring
methods in this study were quite onerous and time-consuming. It is
recommended that the biomonitoring techniques be developed further to
make them simpler and faster to carry out.
- Further development of the Nitrophobe/Nitrophile variety of
the Ellenberg N Index is a promising research path worth following.
- The ammonia samplers (ALPHA (Adapted Low-cost Passive High
Absorption) samplers) were found to be easy to use and analyse. They
can be used for measurements of atmospheric ammonia in the future.
- An inter-laboratory comparison should be conducted for the
analysis of total nitrogen in grass foliage if this analysis will be
done by SEPA laboratories in the future.
- The results from biomonitoring should be used to further
validate the SCAIL model and thereby enhance future use of the model.
Copies of this report are available from the Foundation, in electronic
format on CDRom at £20.00 + VAT or hard copy at
£15.00, less 20% to FWR members.
The report is available for download from the SNIFFER Website