Impacts of atmospheric pollution on the plant communities of British acid grasslands

Environ Pollut. 2011 Oct;159(10):2602-8. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2011.06.009. Epub 2011 Jun 30.


Air pollutants are recognised as important agents of ecosystem change but few studies consider the effects of multiple pollutants and their interactions. Here we use ordination, constrained cluster analysis and indicator value analyses to identify potential environmental controls on species composition, ecological groupings and indicator species in a gradient study of UK acid grasslands. The community composition of these grasslands is related to climate, grazing, ozone exposure and nitrogen deposition, with evidence for an interaction between the ecological impacts of base cation and nitrogen deposition. Ozone is a key agent in species compositional change but is not associated with a reduction in species richness or diversity indices, showing the subtly different drivers on these two aspects of ecosystem degradation. Our results demonstrate the effects of multiple interacting pollutants, which may collectively have a greater impact than any individual agent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Atmosphere / chemistry
  • Biodiversity
  • Environment
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Nitrogen / toxicity
  • Ozone / analysis
  • Ozone / toxicity
  • Poaceae / drug effects*
  • Poaceae / growth & development


  • Air Pollutants
  • Ozone
  • Nitrogen