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Natural Revegetation in the Vicinity of the Former Lead Smelter in Žerjav, Slovenia

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journal contribution
posted on 01.07.2006, 00:00 by Tatjana Vidic, Nejc Jogan, Damjana Drobne, Barbara Vilhar
The response of plant communities to pollution associated with the lead smelter in Žerjav, Slovenia, was investigated on spatial and temporal scales. In 2001, the total concentrations of contaminating metals in the soil measured at the most polluted plot were 59 000 mg kg-1 Pb, 180 mg kg-1 Cd, and 3300 mg kg-1 Zn. A negative correlation between the concentration of metals in the soil and plant biodiversity parameters along the gradient of pollution in 2001 was detected. Plant species lists were compiled in 2001 for plots located at different distances from the emission source and compared to that of 1981. In the period from 1981 to 2001, smelter emissions were reduced, and plant species richness increased at all examined plots. Among the successful survivals were some metal hyperaccumulators (Minuartia gerardii, Thlaspi praecox, and Biscutella laevigata). Of special interest were plants that survived the period of highest pollution. We believe that these species can be used in metal-degraded environments for natural revegetation to immobilize heavy metals. The ecosystem in the surroundings of the former smelter is presently recovering. Our results suggest that high metal concentrations in soil are a potential limiting factor for revegetation.