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Effects of Unseeded Areas on Species Richness of Coal Mines Reclaimed with Municipal Biosolids

Authors

  • Jessica E. Halofsky,

    Corresponding author
    1. Present address: Department of Forest Science, 321 Richardson Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, U.S.A.
    2. School of Forest Resources, Ferguson Building, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, U.S.A.
      Address correspondence to J. Halofsky, email jessica.halofsky@oregonstate.edu
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  • Larry H. McCormick

    1. School of Forest Resources, Ferguson Building, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, U.S.A.
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Address correspondence to J. Halofsky, email jessica.halofsky@oregonstate.edu

Abstract

Land application of municipal biosolids on coal mine spoils can benefit vegetation establishment in mine reclamation. However, the application of biosolids leads to domination by early-successional species, such as grasses, and low establishment of woody and volunteer species, thus reducing potential for forestry as a postmining land use. In this experiment, tree seedlings were planted in strips (0.6-, 1-, and 4-m wide) that were not seeded with grasses, and the effects of unseeded strip width on seedling growth and species richness were assessed. Planted seedling mortality was high; therefore, the effect of unseeded strip width on seedling growth could not be determined. However, it was found that natural plant invasion and species richness were highest in the 4-m unseeded strips. The practice of leaving 4-m-wide unseeded strips in mine reclamation with biosolids in the eastern United States, along with the improvement of tree seedling planting practices and planting stock, would help promote a more species-rich plant community that could be utilized for forestry or a variety of other postmining land uses.

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