Approaches to the design of a biomonitoring program using arthropods as bioindicators for the AOSERP study area

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  • Present oil sand extracting plants are licensed to emit up to 635 t of S02 per day, along with large quantities of other gasses and fly ash. Additional oil sand extraction plants are in the planning stages. The cumulative effect of additional plants will tax the ability of the local environment to remove pollutants. A literature review on the effects of pollution showed that, while vegetation is the most conspicuous victim of pollution damage, arthropods clearly respond to the effects of industrial emissions, and may be used as an early warning system for harmful effects. Insects possess certain characteristics desirable for biomonitoring organisms. They are abundant, cosmopolitan, sensitive to pollution, and show definite responses to pollutants. Several insect species and groups of insects are examined in relation to their potential as biological indicators in the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program (AOSERP) study area. Pitfall traps (for ground beetles), emergence traps (for production measurements), and a survey of scale insects are recommended. In addition, bark beetles, honey bees, and insect species diversity indices are discussed in relation to AOSERP biomonitoring.

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