Head - Prof. zw. dr hab. Aleksandra Samecka-Cymerman
The Department of Ecology, Biogeochemistry and Environmental Protection deals with the examination of ecological
phenomena of common and endangered aquatic and terrestrial plants. The chemical basis (biogeochemistry) and the factors
(xenobiotics, trace elements, organic compounds etc.) influencing these processes are described. The methods used include
biotests, bioindication and ecotoxicological models applied to the most effective bioindicators of environmental pollution. The
results of the chemical and ecological plant investigations are evaluated with sophisticated statistical programmes (neural
networks, data mining, multivariate exploratory techniques), published in international indexed journals and applied
environmental protection practices.
The published papers describe the susceptibility and range of tolerance of the selected species of bryophytes (mosses and
liverworts), aquatic and terrestrial plants to xenobiotics and selected organic compounds (PBDEs, PAH, PCBs, polyphenols,
ethylene glycol, 2,4 D). The reactions of organisms and populations of these species to these toxins are described together
with the role of the selected plants in the circulation of elements in aquatic ecosystems. The possibility of the use of selected
aquatic macrophytes in the selfpurification of water is evaluated. We pointed that species of terrestrial bryophytes and lichens
are useful in the bioindication of soil pollution with PBDEs, metals, oil and radionuclides and helpful in the determination of
pollution of the urban environment. The bioconcentration of metals in native mosses exposed to industrial emissions are
compared with the bioconcentration in mosses of the same species transplanted from uncontaminated sites in order to detect
which are better bioindicators.
Background values for metals in bryophytes collected from areas relatively free from pollution in Svalbard, Switzerland,
Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands are established. Thanks to such investigations directions of changes in environments
influenced by chemical pollution can be evaluated.
Concentrations of heavy metals in aquatic bryophytes from different geological basements and the role of mosses in
circulation of elements in forests are described. Knowledge of differences of natural levels of metal concentrations in
bioindicators contributes to a better evaluation of the industrial derived metals in the whole pool of elements accumulated by
Papers concerning the ecological basis for the protection of rare and endangered plants. We described the resources of
selected species and evaluated the environmental conditions for optimal growth, reintroduction and cultivation of these plants.
Papers concerning statistical and mathematical ecology. The Kohonen self-organizing map (SOFM) is used to identify the
type of streambeds from where the aquatic bryophytes were collected. The Kohonen self-organizing map (SOFM) also
enabled the classification of the intensity of pollution of sites around a smelter and to classify mosses according to the
concentration of elements depending distance and direction from this smelter. The Market Basket Analysis is used as new tool
in ecology to describe chemical relations in the environment.
Papers concerning ecology of high mountain and polar ecosystems especially Svalbard and Sudety Mountains. These studies
focus on investigating the extent, reasons and mechanisms of the progressive degradation of biodiversity in various habitats.
Of special interest is the diversity of mountain mires and ecology of peat mosses (Sphagnum). The Polar study focus on the
influence of global changes on the transformations and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems in the Arctic as represented by
the Svalbard archipelago. Current research concerns identification of the main nitrogen sources across various types of
tundra which enable to estimate the contributions of different nitrogen pools: nitrogen primary fixation, atmospheric deposition,
bird droppings, and organic decomposition. The most recent study concentrate on biomonitoring of terrestrial tundra
ecosystems using different organisms (mosses, vascular plants, lichens, algae).
All investigtions have a practical application and form the base of effective actions in environmental protection.
Described examples are:
-the environmental safe constructed and accustomed low cost hydrobotanical system of sewage purification for the brown
coal mine in Belchatow.
-investigations concerning Colchicum autumnale regarding the environmental demands for highest production of colchicyne
required by the pharmaceutical industry.
-investigations concerning bryophytes for use in biogeochemical prospection of e.g. arsenic and polymetallic deposits.
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