Coniferous trees are widespread in Russia, especially in Siberia, where taiga extends over tens of millions of hectares. Cedars and pines grow also in the environs of cities and in city parks and suffer from human-induced changes in environment.
Of course, coniferous trees can withstand a low-level pollution. Acid gases or soil pollutants that trees absorb are actively transported and deposited in those parts of wood, which do not perform important functions, and some elements are removed with needles and root exudates. Trees are armed with several biochemical reactions preventing harmful oxidation processes. According to the data obtained in the Main Botanical Garden in Moscow, the ability of pine species to withstand the human-induced pollution decreases in the following range. Common pine (Pinus silvestris) is most sustainable; mountain pine (Pinus montana) and North American species - Labrador pine (Pinus banksiana) and Weymouth pine (Pinus strobus) - are less sustainable; cembra pine (Pinus cembra), Siberian cedar (Pinus sibirica), dwarf pine (Pinus pumila), and Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) are most vulnerable.
Conifers are ten times as sensitive to the air pollution as foliage trees. Because of such a susceptibility to ecological changes, conifers are good objects for the biological monitoring of the environment. This method allows one to assess a combined impact of all toxic substances on live organisms. This is very advantageous in urban conditions, since the heterogeneity of the city climate, soil cover, topography, and other factors make it difficult to determine the degree of pollution and the level of toxicity of various substances in certain points within the town area. Such an assessment could not be based, e.g., only on the chemical analysis of gaseous pollutants, because the latter cannot characterize the transformation and migration of gases in different layers of the atmosphere. In this situation, the observation on plants that suffer from these gases is a better way of ecological control.
Natalia Reznik | alphagalileo
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