Assessment of the employment of halophyte plant species for the phytomanagement of mine tailings in semiarid areas

Journal ar
Ecological Engineering
  • Volumen: 71
  • Fecha: 01 January 2014
  • Páginas: 598-604
  • ISSN: 09258574
  • Source Type: Journal
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2014.07.061
  • Document Type: Article
  • Publisher: Elsevier
Plant selection is a critical issue for the long-term success of phytomanagement projects. The presence of "microenvironments" related to salinity in mine tailings under semiarid climates make halophytes a suitable alternative for phytostabilisation. The goal of this work was to assess the criteria for plant species selection for the phytostabilisation of mining wastes in semiarid areas, focusing on the suitability of the employment of spontaneous halophyte plant species. For this purpose, a comprehensive soil below-plant and plant survey including spontaneous halophyte and non-halophyte plant species were performed in an extensive area covered by mining wastes in SE Spain. The soil samples collected below halophyte plants showed higher electrical conductivity, organic carbon and water extractable salts concentrations than the non-halophyte ones. Zygophyllum fabago and Limonium cossonianum were the most suitable species to colonize the salty micro niches at the tailings while Tamarix canariensis and Atriplex halimus showed the best soil fertility indicators under moderate electrical conductivity values. In general, the halophyte species showed lower metal(loid) concentrations in leaves or shoots than the non-halophyte ones (e.g. Cistus monspeliensis, Dittrichia viscosa and Helichrysum decumbens). Oppositely, the leaves of halophyte plant species, specially A. halimus and Z. fabago, showed higher accumulation of Na and Cl which may be of interest to effect the long term desalination of the tailings. The interest of employing halophytes is not only focused on metal(loid)s tolerance but also in the high potential for soil improvement (organic matter accumulation, desalination). The positive effects of combining halophyte with non-halophyte plant species may enhance the long-term sustainability of the plant community. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

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