Topography of Spoil Heaps and Its Role in Plant Succession and Soil Fauna Presence

Open access

Abstract

The spoil heaps from brown coal mining without technical reclamation are interesting specific sites for ecological relationships observation. This research was aimed at investigating whether topographic features, which determine soil nutrient and moisture distribution, in combination with soil fauna (wireworm and earthworm) presence, affect plant community composition at a spontaneously revegetated post mining area with an undulating surface. Two sites of different age with three types of topographic features were selected, soil moisture and nutrient contents were measured, and plant community composition and soil macrofauna community were sampled at each position. Wireworms were present at all positions and were most abundant at the bottoms of waves at the younger site; their presence was correlated with the presence of several plant species with high palatability for wireworms, but the direction of the interaction is not clear. Earthworms were only present at the older site and had the highest abundance at flat sections. Earthworm presence affected the amount of nitrogen in soil - the highest nitrogen content was at the site with the highest earthworm density and was followed by a higher diversity of plant community. The plant community composition was generally correlated with plant available nutrient content - especially P and N. We infer that topographic features affect nutrient and soil fauna distribution, which consequently influences the plant community composition.

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CiteScore 2018: 0.6

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