Variation of bilateral leaf structures in Middle Ural cenopopulations of the weeping birch (Betula pendula Roth.) growing in gradients of industrial pollution was studied to test the efficiency of a new method of population and individual phenogenetic monitoring allowing an indirect assessment of developmental destabilization by segregating the variance of total asymmetry (TA R 2 ) into its additive components, the variances of fluctuating asymmetry (FA R 2 ) and directional asymmetry (DA R 2 ). The method was tested in the impact zones of two copper-smelting plants in the Middle Urals. The degree of impact was characterized by the index of technogenic pollution (ITP) reflecting the average total contents of 15 water-soluble pollutants in snow samples. The level of asymmetry was estimated from the numbers of denticles with incoming veins (dentovenal elements) on the left and right leaf margins. Spearman’s coefficient of rank correlation between the group values of variance in fluctuating asymmetry (FA R 2 ) and corresponding ITP values reached r S = 0.914 (p < 0.001), providing evidence that the method is highly appropriate for ecological indication of the phenogenetic response of trees to environmental pollution.
Russian Journal of Ecology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 9, 2008
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