Tree species identity governs the soil macrofauna community composition and soil development at reclaimed post-mining sites on calcium-rich clays
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We tested the effect of main soil characteristics and tree species on earthworm community composition and abundance in reclaimed spoil heaps planted with five different tree species. Earthworm and soil macroarthropod abundance and biomass were highest in alder plantations, followed by oak plantations. The numbers of soil macrofauna were positively correlated with the total soil N content, which was highest in alder plantation. The correlation was strongest for endogeic earthworms (genus Aporrectodea and Octolasion). Soil moisture, measured in top 10 cm, affected only endogeic species. Other soil variables (pH, Ca) did not have a strong effect on earthworms. The earthworm community composition was similar in alder and oak, with most species occurring at both types of forest; however, in alder forest the epigeic species Dendrobaena octaedra was more common, whilst in oak forest the epigeic earthworms form genus Lumbricus were more abundant (L. rubellus and L. castaneus). The anecic species Aporrectodea longa was more abundant at alder sites, but L. terrestris was more abundant under oak. The alder forest was characteristic by a thick humus layer (10–15 cm), which at oak and larch sites was thinner (4–7 cm) and at pine and spruce stands was absent. Soil compaction was lower under the deciduous trees (alder, oak, larch), than under spruce and pine. We conclude that the alder plantations have most palatable litter and lowest C/N ratio and therefore support the highest numbers of soil macrofauna, which affects the humus layer thickness and soil compaction in the surface layers.
KeywordsReclamation Post-mining Earthworm Soil macrofauna Tree species Soil properties
The study was financially supported by the Grant of the Czech Ministry of Agriculture: QK1710241—Optimization of management of forest restoration on sites affected by surface mining. We would like to thank Dr. Kamila Svobodová, Martin Berka, Jan Řezník, Jan Roubíček and Dr. Marek Vach for their help during field sampling.
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