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Research Paper on Biodiversity

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Biological diversity is an important and vital aspect of contemporary modern science. This sample research paper biodiversity of moss in urban and park settings in order to prove that high traffic areas can negatively impact the level of biodiversity in natural areas. This writing sample displays one of the features of working with a professional writer at Ultius custom writing services.

Biodiversity of moss in urban areas and natural parks


Using quantitative research methods, we evaluated the biodiversity of moss in urban and natural park settings to establish that the proximity of those parks to high traffic areas negatively affected the biodiversity of moss in parks. We selected six parks, three urban and three natural, and evaluated the moss present in those parks. We identified six species of moss present in more natural areas while only one was present in our two most urban survey sites. We concluded that moss biodiversity was diminished in parks located in urban areas near high traffic.

Moss as a bio-indicator

Examining moss as a bio-indicator of air quality is well documented throughout the years from numerous and duplicatable studies. The studies indicate that moss has been used in two basic ways to monitor the effects of air pollution on biological systems.

  • Elemental analysis of moss tissues is valuable in detecting the presence of pollutants as moss retains these particles in its body.
  • Moss species found in areas adjacent to pollution sources serve as representatives of the air quality in the atmosphere surrounding the moss.

This paper proves that moss biodiversity is negatively affected by the proximity of the moss to pollutants in various concentrations in parks located in urban and natural settings.

Moss and lichens are unique biological indicators for the effect of pollution on plant growth and the causes of global warming. As moss accumulates many different pollutants from atmospheric, moss tissues provide a record of the kinds and relative quantities of air pollutants in any particular environment (Camgöz, 2011). One main reason for moss’ utility as a measure of pollutions impact comes from their sensitivity to atmospheric conditions.

“Mosses and lichens are among the best biogenic dust collectors and these can be used in detailed studies of airborne pollutants” (Salo, 2012).

Pollutant patterns

Pollutant patterns for specific elements have been monitored over time by correlating moss growth rates and pollutant concentrations in portions of moss tissue. Changes in moss growth pattern indication pollution in and environment long before other, physical changes occur in color and morphology.

Additionally, moss is also an excellent species to evaluate as they retain elements of certain types of pollution, specifically, the retention in their tissues of magnetic particles found in pollution secondary to industrial and auto exhaust. Salo (2012) describes that smelting is a good source of magnetic particles (p. 69). Britannica defines smelting as the process by which a metal is obtained by heating it beyond the melting point.

Pollution-sensitive moss species have commonly been surveyed for air quality. The Conocephalum species of moss are inherently more sensitive to airborne contaminants. Air quality can be effectively monitored by occasionally evaluating moss community and/or physiological parameters. Pollution-related changes can then be documented by comparing growth and location patterns.

Biodiversity concerns in Portland

Our study examines the presences and concentrations of various moss species in parks around the Portland area. We examined parks with proximity to heavy automobile traffic areas (urban parks) as well as parks further away from heavy automobile traffic area (natural parks). It is accepted that automobiles produce air pollution and in urban settings, this air pollution is more concentrated. Therefore, our hypothesis is that the growth of moss will be affected by the presence of air pollutants produced by cars.

“Mosses and lichens are most directly dependent upon the atmosphere for both water and mineral nutrients because these plants have no real root system” (Zullini, 1986).

Methods used to research biodiversity

Species evaluated

Using the following research steps, our first step in designing the study was to select lichen and moss species and their habitats to determine which species are likely to be found on different surfaces and which species are more or less tolerant to pollution. We measured the presence and concentration of the following six species:

  1. Dicranoweisia cirrata
  2. Rhytidiopsis robusta
  3. Antitrichia californica
  4. Ceratodon purpureus
  5. Scleropodium cespitans
  6. Hypnum subimponens

Research sites

We selected six total sites, three urban park areas near heavy automobile traffic and three natural forests areas close to the city but further away from heavy automobile traffic:

  1. PSU Park Blocks
  2. Creston Parks
  3. Couch Park
  4. Marquam Nature Park
  5. Tualatin Hills Nature Park
  6. Dabney State Park

Methods used to measure biodiversity in moss

To maintain randomness in our sampling location, we used a pin wheel with a directional arrow. We would spin the wheel and follow the direction of the arrow for fifty steps. At that location we would drop a one square foot transect and count the moss and lichen per that square foot. We repeated this procedure ten times at each park to gather enough random sampling data.

This method was repeated at each park. By using this we gathered sufficient random data on the presence and quantity of our sample species. The quantity of specimens observed at each data gathering point was logged. This data was then entered into a spreadsheet and graphs were generated illustrating the moss species diversity presence and measurable quantity of species.

Results of moss biodiversity research

Dicranoweisia cirrata

Of the six species observed, one, Dicranoweisia cirrata was present in all six testing sites. The second most prevalent species was Rhytidiopsis robusta present at all but the two most urban sites. Because of this phenomena, we chose to analyze the prevalence rates of these two species using a one-way balanced Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). ANOVA is the standardized variance used to measure rates in the field of soil ecology.

Using ANOVA to compare the variances was favored over multiple t-tests over all six species of moss at six locations risking committing a type one error. Our constant was the null hypothesis that proximity to assumed higher concentrations of air pollution would have no effect on the prevalence of moss in our six sites. However, we observed differences in the diversity and quantity of moss present in our data.

Accounting for the variance without one species at two sites while the other was present in the average quantity shows that the constant effect on biodiversity. Dicranoweisia cirrata was present in all sample sites in varying abundance averaging 0.155 with the highest concentration at Dabney State Park. However, the average prevalence rate was maintained at the urban parks. Of note, the only moss observed at two of our more urban parks, Creston and Couch, was D. cirrata.

Rhytidiopsis robusta

The second most prevalent species was Rhytidiopsis robusta with an average prevalence rate of 0.043. However, this species was not present at two of our urban parks, and only in a tiny amount (0.0139), in the PSU Park Blocks. The Shannon Diversity index for all sampled sites showed the following values for species richness:

  • Marquam Nature Park, 2.83108
  • Tualatin Hills Nature Park, 2.581
  • Dabney State Park, 4.7079
  • PSU Park Blocks, 0.982
  • Creston Park 1.474
  • Couch Park, 1.326

The highest species richness was observed at Dabney State Park which is the farthest away from heavy vehicle traffic for the sample sites, supporting the hypothesis that increased pollution was detrimental to biodiversity. Of our six sites, it is quite clear that there was more diversity of moss species represented in our natural parks over the urban parks. Dabney State Park had the greatest quantities of the most diverse representation of the species. While the urban parks, PSU, Creston, and Couch, had mostly D. cirrata moss.

Reflections on biodiversity research results

Moss derives the bulk of its nutrients from the atmosphere without the benefit of a significant root structure making it more sensitive to atmospheric conditions. Therefore, moss is a uniquely qualified plant to observe when the question is the deleterious effects of air pollution on biodiversity. Our hypothesis is that there is a correlation between the biodiversity of moss species in parks regardless of the parks’ proximity to high traffic areas.

Through our scientific observation, we obtained data which proves that the proximity of moss to urban areas closer to heavy traffic effects both the diversity and growth of moss. The only variable was the proximity of the sample sites to heavy traffic. The effect was an appreciable decline in biodiversity.

Considering that some species of moss were more affected than others, further inquiry into this topic may include an evaluation of the particular sensitivities of the moss species that were present in the more natural areas. Regardless, our study proves our hypothesis that car pollution has a direct affect the diversity of moss present in parks.


Salo, H., Bućko, M., Vaahtovuo, E., Limo, J., Mäkinen, J., & Pesonen, L. (2012). Biomonitoring of air pollution in SW Finland by magnetic and chemical measurements of moss bags and lichens. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 115(1), 69-81. Retrieved November 27, 2012, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037567421200043X

Sert, E., Uğur, A., Özden, B., & Camgöz, B. (2011). Biomonitoring of 210 Po and 210 Pb using lichens and mosses around coal-fired power plants in Western Turkey. . Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 102(6), 535-542. Retrieved November 27, 2012, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S135223100300147X

Zullini, A., & Peretti, E. (1986). Lead pollution and moss-inhabiting nematodes of an industrial area. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 27(3), 403-410.



Ultius, Inc. "Research Paper on Biodiversity." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 07 Aug. 2013. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/research-paper-on-biodiversity.html

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Ultius, Inc. (2013, August 07). Research Paper on Biodiversity. Retrieved from Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services, https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/research-paper-on-biodiversity.html

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Ultius, Inc. "Research Paper on Biodiversity." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. August 07, 2013 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/research-paper-on-biodiversity.html.

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Ultius, Inc. "Research Paper on Biodiversity." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. August 07, 2013 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/research-paper-on-biodiversity.html.

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