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Earth Observation

 

 

Earth Observation in the frame of EO-MINERS - Earth Observation methods

Biological

Overview

A wide range of methods exist to assess the state of the 'biosphere'. These methods assess the quantity and quality of faunal, botantical, and fungal constituents of ecosystems. These methods also assess the interaction between those constituents, drawing conclusions on the state of the respective ecosystem. Even an overview over these methods would be beyond the scope of this report. Several indicators (see Ch. 6), e.g. A8 (Recultivation success) and A10 (Soil fertility), refer, however, indirectly to biological properties.

Biological properties can be used to indicate the state of mine-influenced ecosystems.

Bioindicators are organisms, such as plants, lichens, birds, and bacteria that are used to monitor the health of the environment. The organisms are monitored for changes that may indicate a problem within their ecosystem. The changes can be chemical, physiological, or behavioral.


Uses and Types of Bioindicators
Each organism within an ecosystem has the ability to provide information on the health of its environment (http://www.biobasics.gc.ca):

Uses of bioindicators

 

Types of bioindicators

Biological diagram
Diagram of the hierarchical levels of an ecosystem that respond to anthropogenic disturbances or natural stress.

The white ring of environmental variables includes factors that may be directly altered by disturbance or stress. These alterations may subsequently affect individual organisms, populations, or the community as a whole. The outermost colored ring represents individual organisms (cutthroat trout, Pteronarcys Salmonfly, Phaedoactylum diatom), the middle colored ring represents populations of those organisms, and the innermost colored ring represents the community in which all three species coexist. Disturbance and stress may positively or negatively affect energy resources (e.g., food, light), biotic interactions (e.g., competition, predation, herbivory), and the physical (e.g., water velocity, substrate upon which an organism attaches, uses for refugia, lays eggs), or chemical (e.g., nutrients) environment. These environmental changes may increase or decrease growth and reproduction of an organism, consequently impacting the size and productivity of the population and interactions with other species in the community.

(Source: http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/bioindicators-using-organisms-to-measure-environmental-impacts-16821310)


An example: Mosses as indicators to air quality

Mosses lack vascular systems and obtain most of their nutrients from precipitation and from dry deposition of airborne particles. Therefore, tissue concentrations are minimally confounded by uptake of mineral elements from soils and subsequent translocation (Hasselbach et al. 2005). As a result, airborne pollutants concentrations can be mapped based on chemical analysis of moss tissue, as presented in the following two figures.

Pb prediction map image
Conditional simulation predictions for moss Lead tissue concentrations in the vicinity of Cape Krusenstern National Monument including 0.05 and 0.95 prediction quantiles. (Hasselbach et al. 2005)
Cd prediction map
Conditional simulation predictions for moss Cadmium concentrations in the vicinity of Cape Krusenstern National Monument including 0.05 and 0.95 prediction quantiles. (Hasselbach et al. 2005).