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What’s a bioindicator?

Bioindicators are organisms (or parts of organisms or communities of organisms) that contain quantitative and/or qualitative information on quality of the environment (or a part of the environment).

Biomonitors are a subset of bioindicators that can provide quantitative measurements of environmental quality, which can be compared to results from sensors and instruments.

In order to evaluate how contamination exists spatially, sessile (immobile) species are the best. In addition, a good bioindicator species is common and easily sampled, presenting some responses to toxicants (biomarker responses) that can be reliably measured and show concentration dependence.

Bioindicators can inform us also about the biological and ecological integrity of an environment. This is the ability to maintain communities balanced, adaptable and integrated organisms, possessing a species composition, diversity and functional organization comparable to a natural environment and reflect natural evolutionary processes.

Another important use of bioindicators is the perform of bioassays. For more detailed explanation of bioassays please check this wiki page.

Mainly used bioindicators

Bioindicators for water

For study of freshwater quality, the main group used is the macroinvertebrates. Between the most common bioindicators of good water quality we have the mayfly midges, and for polluted waters blood worms midges. These particular species have several advantages over: they are sedentary, with short life spans, are easy and cheap for sampling, and there are several methods for data analysis (biotic indexes and diversity indexes).

Bioindicators for air

For study of air quality, the main group used is the lichens. These bioindicators differ in their pollution sensitivity. You can find out more in the @vaniafong research note. These particular species have several advantages over: they are ubiquitous, they do not have a protective cuticle and absorb, if either symbiote is affected for something, both organisms die, they are relatively long-lived, they are perennial, have restricted ecological requirements or limited dispersion ranges.

Bioindicators for soil

For study of soil quality, one important group used is the plants. Between the most common plants of soil quality we have the cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus), crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), onion (Allium cepa), Tradescantia sp., Vicia faba, among others. These particular species have several advantages over: do not move, depend directly on the soil to fulfill their vital functions, have specific requirements (acidophilic, basophilic, hydrophilic, nitrophilic, sciophilic, heliophilic plants, etc.), indicators of many characteristics of the environment such as metals in the soil, acidity in the soil and in the rain, climatic changes, human intervention, livestock pressure.


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Research notes

Title Author Updated Likes Comments
Los Angeles Bioblitz Weekend @fongvania over 1 year ago 1
Research Paper: Correlating NDVI with Lichen Responses to Air Pollution @fongvania about 2 years ago 25
Virtual Event: Environmental Storytelling - Stories from the Field @fongvania about 2 years ago 9
Activity: Air Pollution Gardens @fongvania about 2 years ago 1
The suspicious drain on the Suquía river @alejobonifacio over 2 years ago 1
El desagüe sospechoso en el río Suquía @alejobonifacio over 2 years ago 1
Activity: Lichens for Qualitative Air Quality Determination @fongvania over 2 years ago 0
¿Cómo evaluar la calidad de un río con insectos acuáticos (bioindicadores)? / How do I assess the quality of an river with aquatic insects (bioindicators)? @alejobonifacio over 2 years ago 0
Air Quality Research Community Call @fongvania almost 3 years ago 1
Activity: Learning to Spot Lichens and Mosses @fongvania almost 2 years ago 4
Identifying Pockets of Air Pollution at the Neighborhood Scale @DuwamishCleanup over 3 years ago 1


Title Updated Version Views Likes
Lichen for Air Quality Biomonitoring over 1 year ago by fongvania 12 202 1
Bioindicators about 2 years ago by fongvania 6 479 2


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