An investigation into the distributional and ecological characteristics of the terricolous lichen flora of the Scunthorpe heathlands is described. The Risby Warren area was especially studied, because there is a noticeable terricolous lichen desert and distinctive zonation of lichen communities, each of which incorporates Peltigera rufescens. Peltigera rufescens appeared to be quite tolerant of air pollution in this region, and occurred in sufficient quantities for periodic sampling; this proved valuable for determination of the sulfur, chromium, copper, iron, lead, manganese, and nickel content of the thalli along a 780 m transect. Frequency assessments, together with these element determinations, revealed sharp qualitative and quantitative improvements in the lichen flora with increasing distance from the pollution sources. The stable lichen pattern, together with the mineral accumulation measurements, was indicative of a pollution dome effect operating to a distance of approximately 3 km. Within 100 to 200 m of this critical distance, lichen material had a pronounced metallic accumulation; the latter was compared with urban and herbarium material. The possible use of lichens for the sampling of ambient environmental conditions is discussed.