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Keywords:

  • floristic composition;
  • plant community;
  • quarry restoration;
  • restoration ecology;
  • sewage sludge;
  • similarity;
  • soil rehabilitation

Abstract

The effects of sewage sludge, used to improve fertility of replaced soil, on vegetation were studied in limestone quarry restoration. Plant community growing in the first stages after sludge application was surveyed in six quarries of NE Spain. Areas with a mixture of sewage sludge and residual soil were compared to areas where the application consisted only of residual soil (a mixture of previous top soil and mine spoils). Sewage sludge was hypothesized to increase total biomass and cover, modifying species composition and delaying the early successional recover of the community. The results showed that both biomass and plant cover increased because of sewage sludge addition. The floristic composition was dominated by ruderal species that did not show any dependence on sewage sludge application. Convergence on similarity between sludge and control plots was not detected along a 5-year period. Although species richness was significantly lower in sludge plots, diversity and equitability indexes did not show differences between treatments. The results did not show differences in the proportion of non-native species. The proportion of legumes was lower in sludge plots. These results show that the plant communities resulting from the addition of sewage sludge to the soil used in limestone quarry restoration have more biomass and cover, but less number of species, and they do not show a clear trend to converge to those areas restored only with non-amended soil.