The spatial distribution of total and available heavy metals at areas of historic mining activity in the Peak District and their influence on local vegetation communities

Preston, P 2018, The spatial distribution of total and available heavy metals at areas of historic mining activity in the Peak District and their influence on local vegetation communities , MRes thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

The Peak District in the UK has seen metal ore extraction and other mining activities take place for hundreds of years. As a result, many areas contain elevated soil concentrations of several heavy metals, which can be toxic to many plant species. However, these conditions have favoured several metallophyte plant species which have adapted to the metalliferous soil conditions by developing physiological mechanisms that allow them to tolerate heavy metal toxicity. This research focuses on the spatial distribution of total and available heavy metals and other abiotic variables in relation to the distribution of vegetation species at seven areas of historical mining activity in the Southern Peak District. This study is important as many of these sites have been designated protected areas due to their historical, archaeological, geological or ecological importance, and increased knowledge of these habitats and the many rare and interesting species that inhabit them may identify priority areas for conservation or influence management strategies. The research approach adopted saw the collection of 155 soil samples and the recording of vegetation at 127 points within seven sites. x-ray fluorescence technology was used to evaluate the total heavy metal concentrations, whilst the bioavailable fraction was determined with ICP-OES after a single extraction procedure using CaCl2. Canonical correspondence analysis and principal component analysis were applied to assess relationships between vegetation and soil variables, along with geospatial analysis, using kriging, to allow visualisation of spatial distribution patterns. The findings from this research indicate that several plant species were closely associated with Pb, Zn and Cd and that several similarities in spatial distribution of the metals, vegetation cover and onsite landscape modifications and structures exist. The main conclusions are that landscape modifications and other structures present at the study areas influence abiotic variables, and thus, the vegetation communities that exist on them, demonstrating that multivariate and geostatistical methods are useful for the assessment, characterisation, and monitoring of ecological and mineralogical aspects of historical mining areas.

Item Type: Thesis (MRes)
Contributors: Clark, AP (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences
Depositing User: Paul Preston
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2018 11:00
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2018 01:38
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/47706

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