Plant and Soil

, Volume 330, Issue 1–2, pp 267–280 | Cite as

Spatial variation of plant communities and shoot Cu concentrations of plant species at a timber treatment site

  • Clémence M. BesEmail author
  • Michel Mench
  • Maurice Aulen
  • Hélène Gaste
  • Julie Taberly
Regular Article


Plant species, spatial variability in plant diversity and vegetation cover were recorded at a French timber treatment site with Cu-contaminated soils (65–2600 mg/kg). Shoot biomass, shoot Cu concentration and accumulation were determined for each plant species found on 168 quadrats with increasing total Cu in soil and soil solution. A total of 91 species occurred on the site including four considered as invasive (Cyperus eragrostis, Phytolacca americana, Senecio inaequidens, and Sporobolus indicus). Species richness, Shannon index, vegetation cover and plant biomass decreased as soil Cu increased. At low soil Cu, members of the Poaceae were most frequent followed by Fabaceae, Rosaceae, and Asteraceae. At high soil Cu, Poaceae were again most frequent. Species known to form Cu-tolerant populations, i.e. Agrostis capillaris, A. stolonifera and Rumex acetosella were present. Shoot Cu concentration and accumulation were higher in plants growing in the most contaminated soils. At 2142 mg Cu/kg soil, shoot Cu accumulation peaked at 6 mg Cu/m² in A. capillaris, and its shoot Cu concentration (364 mg Cu/kg dry weight) exceeded the fodder Cu threshold for domestic livestock. In less Cu-contaminated soils some candidates were identified for sustainable phytoremediation with a potential financial return.


Agrostis capillaris Biodiversity Invasibility Phytoremediation Shannon index 



Abundance/Dominance index


Copper Chromated Arsenate


Dissolved Organic Carbon


Dissolved Organic Matter


Dissolved organic nitrogen


Group I


Group II


Group III


Group IV


Shannon index


Organic matter


Principal Component Analysis


Pearson coefficients of correlation


Species richness



Authors are grateful to ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency ) for funding through the convention n° 05 72 C0018, Department Polluted Sites and Soils, Angers, France, to the Aquitaine Region Council, Bordeaux, France for granting Dr. C. Bes, and to the site owner for allowing access. The authors would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers their helpful and constructive comments.

Supplementary material

11104_2009_198_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (14 kb)
ESM1 (PDF 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clémence M. Bes
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michel Mench
    • 1
  • Maurice Aulen
    • 1
  • Hélène Gaste
    • 1
  • Julie Taberly
    • 1
  1. 1.UMR BIOGECO INRA 1202, Ecology of CommunitiesUniversity of Bordeaux 1TalenceFrance

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