Mohammad Wahsha, Andrea Ferrarini, Lisa Vannuzzo, Claudio Bini, Silvia Fontana


Mining, milling and smelting operations are major causes of heavy metal contamination and constitute an increasing threat to the environment. The objective of this work was to investigate the relationships between soil metal pollution, humus development and microarthropod community structure, using a Biological Soil Quality (QBS-ar) method. Humus and soil samples (0-30cm) were collected during spring 2011 from an abandoned mixed sulphides mining area in Northeast Italy, under both forest and grassland ecosystems. The mine site is contaminated by several heavy metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb, Zn and Fe). Humus forms varied from Dysmoder and Amphimus to the more developed Oligomull. The QBS-ar values presented a wide range (between 65 and 162). Moreover, results demonstrate that in the forest ecosystem the microarthropod communities showed a high biodiversity (richness). On the other hand, we observed stable community structures (evenness) in grassland sites. Humus forms do not have a significant correlation with QBS-ar values and classes of soil biological quality.
Anthropogenic activities influenced the microarthropod community, altering both quantity and quality of litter and chemical-physical structure of the microhabitats.
Preliminary data obtained in this study suggest that the application of QBS-ar index could be a useful tool for monitoring surface mine soils.


heavy metals, soil biological quality; humus

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2281-4485/3732


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