Plant Assemblages of Abandoned Ore Mining Heaps: A Case Study from Roşia Montană Mining Area, Romania

  • Anamaria Roman
  • Dan Gafta
  • Tudor-Mihai Ursu
  • Vasile Cristea
Part of the Geobotany Studies book series (GEOBOT)


Plant assemblages and successional pathways were studied on large, abandoned ore mining heaps located around the open-cast pits from Roşia Montană, Romania. Four differently aged mining spoils with relatively homogenous substrate and one control plot were investigated using the chronosequence approach.

The effects of the waste dump age, slope steepness, position on slope, terrain curvature and potential solar radiation on the plant species composition of different assemblages from spontaneously revegetated primary sites were evaluated. Relevés were grouped into floristically similar vegetation types using non-hierarchical cluster analysis (Fuzzy c-Means). The ecological interpretation of the plant assemblages was performed through indicator species values (IndVal) and non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS).

This study reinforces several important concepts about the deterministic patterns of primary succession. First, the multiple comparisons between plant assemblages reveal that the highest differences are caused by the age of the spoil heap and substrate acidity. Further differences, lower but significant, are determined by terrain curvature and potential solar radiation. Also, environmental factors acting prior to the establishment of the observed plant assemblages (age, substrate pH, slope steepness and position on slope), have subsequently induced a structural differentiation in terms of species richness, vegetation cover and relative cover of the N-fixing species. There are two main possible successional pathways, determined, most likely, by the long term changes in substrate pH under the influence of both abiotic and biotic factors. Two successional series were clearly distinguished: the weakly acidophilous series, comprising communities of Poo compresae-Tussilaginetum farfarae, Festuco rubrae-Agrostietum capillaris and Carpino-Fagetum, and respectively the acidophilous series, comprising plant assemblages of Deschampsietum flexuosae, Pinetum sylvestris sensu lato, Festuco rubrae-Genistetum sagittalis and Vaccinio-Callunetum vulgaris. The spontaneous succession progresses towards woodland and appears to be an ecologically suitable way of restoring the studied disturbed sites, because species typical of natural and semi-natural vegetation have become dominant over time. Within our study area, spontaneous vegetation succession resulted in plant assemblages that resemble the original semi-natural vegetation.


Ecological ordination Habitat chronosequence Indicator species analysis Plant community classification Primary succession Successional pathways Topographic variables Vegetation series 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anamaria Roman
    • 1
  • Dan Gafta
    • 2
  • Tudor-Mihai Ursu
    • 1
  • Vasile Cristea
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Biological Research, National Institute of Research and Development for Biological SciencesCluj-NapocaRomania
  2. 2.Department of Taxonomy and EcologyBabeș-Bolyai UniversityCluj-NapocaRomania

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