1067-4136/03/3401- $25.00 © 2003
Russian Journal of Ecology, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2003, pp. 47–51. Translated from Ekologiya, No. 1, 2003, pp. 51–55.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2003 by Nifontova.
The intensive development of the nuclear industry,
nuclear tests, the reprocessing and burial of radioactive
waste, and nuclear accidents have contributed greatly to
radioactive contamination of the biosphere, stimulating
research on the radioecological monitoring of the envi-
ronment. For the Ural region, with the intensive devel-
opment of the industrial complex involving the use of
nuclear technologies, the problem of radioecological
monitoring is urgent.
In this respect, the territory of the Northern Urals
has been poorly studied. However, it is known that its
northwestern part was contaminated by radioactive fall-
out that descended from the northern branch of the
Eastern Chernobyl Trace (Chursin and Evstigneev,
In this connection, it appeared expedient to estimate
the current levels of
Cs in the soil–plant
cover of the Northern Urals using lichens and mosses as
indicators of radioactive contamination. These plants
have a high capacity for both accumulating radionu-
clides and storing them for a long time, thus retarding
their migration in the soil–plant cover.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
Lichens, mosses, and samples of the lichen–moss
cover were collected in the plant communities of moun-
tain and piedmont landscapes of the Northern Urals, in
its northwestern part. Figure 1 shows the location of
sampling sites and the zones of radioactive contamina-
tion by the Chernobyl fallout in 1986 (Utkin
2000): zone I, normal radiation background (global
fallout); zone II, Chernobyl fallout with a density of
; and zone III, Chernobyl fallout with a
density of 7.5 GBq/km
Plant samples in zone I were collected in the foot-
hills and on the slopes of Mount Kos’vinskii Kamen’
(middle taiga); in zone II, in the foothills and on the
slopes of Mount Molebnyi Kamen’ (northern taiga) and
in the area of Lisii Grot and Ust’-Kal’inskaya caves
(middle taiga); and in zone III, in the vicinity of Mounts
Denezhkin Kamen’ and Zhuravlev Kamen’ (northern
taiga). In addition, I used my previous data on the radi-
onuclide contents of mosses and lichens from the
slopes of Kos’vinskii Kamen’ and Denezhkin Kamen’
in the mid-1970s and the early 1990s.
The moss–lichen cover consisted mainly of the most
widespread ground species, including the lichens
Cladina arbuscula, C. stellaris, C. rangiferina, C.
uncialis, Cladonia amaurocraea,
and the mosses
Dicranum polysetum, Hylocomium
splendens, Hypnum lindbergii, Pleurozium schreberi,
Ptilium crista-castrensis, Polytrichum commune, P.
sp. The methods of sam-
pling and primary processing of the material and the
procedures of gamma-spectrometric and radiochemical
analyses were described previously (Nifontova, 1998).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Figure 2 shows the observed levels of radioactive
contamination in mosses and lichens from the three
zones of the study region. In all zones, the
in the moss–lichen cover of both conditionally lowland
and mountain plant communities were similar, varying
from 30 to 110 Bq/kg dry weight. The lowest
tents were observed in the vicinity and on the slopes of
Mount Kos’vinskii Kamen’ (zone I exposed to global
atmospheric fallout). At these sites,
tions in the plants of piedmont and mountain land-
scapes were 140 and 220 Bq/kg, respectively.
Current Contents of
Cs in the Moss–Lichen Cover
of Piedmont and Mountain Landscapes of the Northern Urals
M. G. Nifontova
Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Division, Russian Academy of Sciences,
ul. Vos’mogo Marta 202, Yekaterinburg, 620144 Russia
Received April 23, 2002
—The contents of long-lived artiﬁcial radionuclides,
Cs, were determined in lichens and
mosses of different taxa and in the samples of moss–lichen cover taken from the mountain and lowland plant
communities of the Northern Urals. The effects of Chernobyl fallout and the dynamics of radionuclide contents
in lichens and mosses were analyzed. The concentration of
Cs in the moss–lichen cover was higher in the
mountain ecosystems than in the lowland plant communities.
: lichens, mosses, moss–lichen cover, radioactivity, dynamics, monitoring.