British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

The structural development of soil microbial communities in reclaimed sites of a metal mine : implications to the restoration of anthropogenic disturbances Benson, L.


Anthropogenic activities affect the structure of terrestrial systems, leading to diminished ecosystem functions. With the cumulative area of disturbance caused by mining in British Columbia approximating 45,412 ha, it is necessary to ensure that reclamation projects are directed by ecologically relevant objectives. In this study, phospholipid fatty acid analysis was used to compare the biomass of soil microbial communities in undisturbed reference and reclaimed sites. Similar to the development of microbial communities following natural disturbance events, microbial biomass within reclaimed sites increased through time, but was significantly lower than undisturbed forests until 30 to 45 years post reclamation. Canonical correspondence analysis identified that the differences in microbial community biomass was affected by changes in soil pH and copper. Due to the long-term requirements for soil development, the assessment of reclamation projects should exceed at least 30 years post completion to properly evaluate the recovery of soil ecosystem composition and function.

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