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10 Pollution Indicator Species

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With the expanding human population, pollution has increased too. Many-a-times its adverse impact on climate and environment is attributed. We might not observe or be impacted unless it is severe. But there are many other organisms which show deformations or uncommon symptoms in response to even a slight increase in the levels of undesired compounds. These organisms are commonly recognized as BIOINDICATORS or Pollution INDICATOR Species.

In this post let’s know about 10 of the most common and important Pollution Indicator Species.

there are many other organisms which show deformations or uncommon symptoms in response to even a slight increase in the levels of undesired compounds. These organisms are commonly recognized as BIOINDICATORS or INDICATOR Species.

10 Pollution Indicator Species

  1. Moss

Mosses indicator of pollution

Mosses are observed in moist shady forests, carpeting over the floor and barks of the trees. They are the most important indicators of soil and air pollution. Generally they prefer slightly acidic soils but as the acidity increases so do their responses to these alterations. These bryophytes show changes in shape, density and appearance in case of sulphur dioxide pollution.



  1. Lichen

Lichens are important bio pollution indicators of almost every kind of pollution, be it air, water or soil. More the lichens less will be the pollution; and reduction in their population clearly indicates presence of pollutants in the environment. Lichens are specially linked as indicator of sulphur dioxide pollution in air.


  1. Mussel

Mussels or Molluscs are a matter of study for various environmentalists as they provide a record of water pollution from analysis of their body tissues and skeletal valves. Because of their feeding habits they absorb almost every type of material which gets deposited in their skeletal structures, which is otherwise known as bioaccumulation. Also they are extremely sensitive to low dissolved oxygen in water and sedimentation which leads to mortalities and hence are an important pollution indicator.

Also know about Smart ways to reduce pollution


  1. Toads and Frogs

Amphibians especially toads and frogs have thin skins and thrives in moist pond areas. The use of excessive pesticides in the fields ultimately ends up draining into the water sources. Through the soft skins the toxic chemicals get absorbed in the bodies of frogs and toads which definitely alter their development and create deformations.


  1. Tobacco

Since many years, tobacco has been a matter of study for various scientists as it is undoubtedly an indicator of Ozone pollution. The plant shows foliar injuries, alteration in leaf shapes and sizes in case of ozone pollution.


  1. Clover

White clover is said to have an association with Nitrogen fixing rhizobium and together they form root nodules. As the accumulation of heavy metals increase in the soil it negatively impact nodule formation. Also the red clover plant shows abnormal growth and deformations under ozone and sulphur dioxide pollution.


  1. Corn and Citrus

Corn and citrus plants grow in a variety of climatic conditions. But vehicles and industries emit an excess of Nitrogen Oxides, which makes the air unclean and contaminated that ultimately alter these plant’s morphology. The plants indicate inter-venal necrotic blotches in their foliage as a response to the pollution.


  1. Epiphytes

Epiphytes are the plants that grow on other trees to get nutrition from them. Though they acquire nutrition from a host plant but still they show altered morphological features and act as bio pollution indicators when exposed to high pollution of Hydro-Carbons.


  1. Peach, Apricot and Conifers

The temperate and deciduous trees are sensitive to changes in air chemistry. Even with a slight increase in hydrogen fluoride concentration in the atmosphere, leads to development of noticeable symptoms in these plants. Apricot, Peach, Pines and other Conifers are important pollution indicator that show distortion in growth, uneven pigment development, chlorotic lesions and necrosis.


  1. Euglena

The flagellated microorganism is a common occurrence in most of the stangnant water bodies. The contamination of these water bodies with sewage and industrial wastes increases the concentration of heavy metals in them. The Euglena species show reduced movements and changes in their body orientation as pollution indicator when exposed to these kinds of adverse conditions.


So, this was my list of 10 Pollution Indicator Species. I hope this post was thoughtful and educative. Learn more about bioindicators and indicator species in this book Bioindicators of Pops: Monitoring in Developing Countries

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