Ecosystem Development in post-mining sites

Ecosystems are affected by anthopogenic activities at a global level and, thus, are manipulated world-wide. This chapter addresses the impacts of apparent and non-apparent manipulations and restoration by human activities in Europe with a focus on the temperate zone. Drastic types of ecosystem manipulation include open-cast mining activities that occur worldwide and induce perturbation of large areas across landscapes. Such harsh human impacts create the need for remediation and restoration measures for mining regions.

Reclaimed post-mining sites undergo long time periods of succession. These initial soils, consisting of excavated and dumped material, are characterized by a high vulnerability to erosion, low water holding capacity, lack of nutrients, low pH or sparse vegetation. Stress tolerant microorganisms colonize the new soil surface in reclaimed areas. On the upper few millimeters of the topsoil they are forming a biological soil crust (biocrust); containing cyanobacteria, bacteria, green algae, mosses, lichens and fungi, which crosslink soil particles.

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