Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
Abstract With existing and proposed air-quality regulations, ecological disasters resulting from air emissions such as those observed at Copperhill, Tennessee, and Sudbury, Ontario, are unlikely. Current air-quality standards, however, may not protect ecosystems from subacute and chronic exposure to air emissions. The encouragement of the use of coal for energy production and the development of the fossil-fuel industries, including oil shales, tar sands, and coal liquification, point to an increase and spread of fossil-fuel emissions and the potential to influence a number of natural ecosystems. This paper reviews the reported responses of ecosystems to air-borne pollutants and discusses the use of animals as indicators of ecosystem responses to these pollutants. Animal species and populations can act as important indicators of biotic and abiotic responses of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. These responses can indicate long-term trends in ecosystem health and productivity, chemical cycling, genetics, and regulation. For short-term trends, fish and wildlife also serve as monitors of changes in community structure, signaling food-web contamination, as well as providing a measure of ecosystem vitality. Information is presented to show not only the importance of animals as indicators of ecosystem responses to air-quality degradation, but also their value as air-pollution indices, that is, as air-quality-related values (AQRV), required in current air-pollution regulation.
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