Bioindication and modelling of atmospheric deposition in forests enable exposure and effect monitoring at high spatial density across scales
The European Heavy Metals in Mosses Surveys measure and map environmental concentrations of metals at more than 7000 sites in Europe. In Germany, moss samples were taken at 592 sites in 1990, at 1026 sites in 1995, and at 1028 sites in 2000, where up to 40 metals were measured each time. This article is about how to calculate multi-metal indices from the site- and metal-specific monitoring data and how to link them with the natural regions (ecoregions) of Germany. The ecoregions were calculated with surface data on natural vegetation, elevation, soil texture and climate by means of Classification and Regression Trees (CART). The ecoregions were mapped by GIS and superimposed on a map of multi-metal bioaccumulation indices calculated by means of geostatistics and percentile statistics from the monitoring data. These indices integrate the concentrations of 8 metals measured in 1990, 1995, and 2000 or 12 metals from the 1995 and 2000 surveys, respectively, and the ecoregionalisation enables their geostatistical estimates to be grouped into 21 ecological land categories. This two-step aggregation revealed that, from 1990 to 2000, the multi-metal metal accumulation declined up to 80%, varying with the ecoregions. Based on the multi-metal accumulation index hot spots, the metal accumulation was mapped, ecoregionalised, and suggested for further ecotoxicological assessment. Thus, the approach helps to assess the metal bioaccumulation within ecoregions in a comprehensive and holistic manner over time, space, and metals. This data aggregation is of importance for the environmental reporting in Germany and within the framework of the international environmental information systems. Furthermore, ecoregions may help to plan and optimize monitoring networks. Because monitoring should measure and estimate not only the environmental concentrations of substances but also their impacts on ecoregions, the number of monitoring sites should be proportional to the areas covered by the ecoregions and located according to their spatial variation.