ISSN 1067-4136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2017, Vol. 48, No. 4, pp. 311–320. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2017.
Original Russian Text © I.V. Lyanguzova, 2017, published in Ekologiya, 2017, No. 4, pp. 250–260.
Dynamic Trends of Heavy Metal Contents in Plants and Soil
under Different Industrial Air Pollution Regimes
I. V. Lyanguzova
Komarov Botanical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, 197376 Russia
Received November 23, 2015
Abstract⎯Based on 30-year monitoring of Ni
concentrations in the organic horizon of Albic
Rustic Podzols and the foliage of six plant species, a dynamic trend in the level of heavy metal accumulation
in the components of forest ecosystems of the Kola Peninsula has been revealed against the background of
five- to eightfold reduction of pollutant emissions. The direction of the trend has been found to differ: the size
of polluted area and pollution level increase with time, while the concentrations of heavy metals in plants
decrease due to reduction in their input from the polluted air.
Keywords: heavy metals, environmental pollution, Albic Rustic Podzol, foliage diagnosis, dynamics, Kola
Forest biogeocenoses of the Kola Peninsula have
been exposed for more than 70 years to airborne
industrial pollution from point sources, such as non-
ferrous metal smelters emitting large amounts of sulfur
dioxide and polymetallic dust into the atmosphere.
The long-term impact of pollutants on forest ecosys-
tems has resulted in changes in their composition,
structure, productivity, the mineral composition of
plants, and also in the accumulation of heavy metals
(HMs) in the soil and plants [1–7]. A great number of
studies have been performed to evaluate the adverse
effects of airborne emissions from the metallurgical
industry on the status and functioning of boreal for-
ests. In particular, more than 2000 publications deal
with the impact from the Severonickel Copper–
Nickel Smelter Complex (SSC, Monchegorsk) on dif-
ferent components of forest ecosystems . However,
they are mainly concentrated on spatial changes in
certain test parameters, while of special interest are
studies on the long-term dynamics of the state of the
same ecosystem components under different regimes
of industrial air pollution. Such publications have
appeared only recently [6, 9–19], but most of them are
based on comparisons within a short time series.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the spa-
tiotemporal dynamics of Ni and Cu accumulation in
the assimilatory organs of plants and the organic hori-
zon of Albic Rustic Podzols over more than 30 years,
against the background of changes in the level of
industrial air pollution.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
The Kola Peninsula is where forest biogeocenoses
exist at the northern limit of their distribution, at the
boundary of northern taiga and forest–tundra sub-
zones. In plain regions, low-productive spruce and
pine forests of lichen and dwarf shrub–moss types are
prevalent . The soils are Albic Rustic Podzols on
glacial-moraine sandy deposits .
Studies were carried out in the central part of the
peninsula in 1981 to 2014. A series of permanent test
plots were established in the region of SSC in lichen–
moss pine forests growing at different distances south-
southwest of the polluter, in the impact, buffer, and
background zones. An analysis of dynamic trends was
performed taking into account data on the contents of
Ni and Cu in the organic soil horizon and plants grow-
ing in the plots (two plots per zone).
According to published data, the annual average
amounts of airborne pollutants emitted from the SSC
between 1981 and 1990 exceeded 220000 t of SO
16000 t of solids. These amounts were reduced to
45800 and 6000 t by the end of the 20th century
(http://www/kolagmk.ru) and have since been further
reduced by factors of eight and five, respectively, com-
pared to the maximum values (Fig. 1).
In each plot, an average soil sample was taken from
the organic horizon of Albic Rustic Podzol, and aver-
age samples of dominant plant species were collected.
According to the conventional procedure , an
average sample of the litter was obtained by pooling no
less than five individual samples; 1-year-old needles