In 1987, a lichen biomonitoring program was initiated in the Otter Creek and Dolly Sods Wildernesses of the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia. This was a baseline study designed to accomplish the following objectives: (1) To characterize the lichen floras of the two wildernesses and note patterns characteristic of air pollution damage; (2) To establish permanent photographic study plots within which to record aspects of lichen community composition; (3) To establish permanent quadrats throughout the two wildernesses within which to collect samples of a single lichen species for elemental analysis.
Lichen communities were sampled in each wilderness and found to include numerous species known to be pollution-sensitive, indicating the lichen flora was not adversely affected by air pollution at that time. In addition, specimens of the lichen Flavoparmelia caperata were sampled within 121 1-km2 sections (80 in Otter Creek and 41 in Dolly Sods) and analyzed for sulfur and 23 other elements to provide baseline information about the air quality in the two wildernesses. Results of elemental analysis indicated sulfur and metal concentrations in test lichens were relatively low, although a significant positive correlation between sulfur concentration and elevation was noted.