indicator species

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A plant or animal species that is very sensitive to a particular environmental factor, so that its presence (or absence) in an area can provide information about the levels of that factor. For example, some lichens are very sensitive to the concentration of sulphur dioxide (a major pollutant) in the atmosphere. Examination of the lichens present in an area can provide a good indication of the prevailing levels of sulphur dioxide.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation.

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