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Keywords:

  • Grassland vegetation;
  • Community composition;
  • Copper;
  • Toxic effect;
  • Field performance

Abstract

Vegetation data including plant cover, biomass, species richness, and vegetation height was sampled on a copper-contaminated field with total copper contents varying from 50 to almost 3,000 mg/kg soil. The field was covered by early succession grassland dominated by Agrostis stolonifera. Plant cover, biomass, species richness, and vegetation height generally decreased with increasing copper content, although the highest biomass was reached at intermediate copper concentrations. Multivariate statistical analyses showed that plant community composition was significantly correlated with soil copper concentration and that community composition at soil copper concentrations above 200 mg/kg differed significantly from community composition at lower copper levels. Comparison of single-species (Black Bindweed, Fallopia convolvulus) performance at the field site and in laboratory tests involving field soil and spiked soil indicates that the laboratory tests conventionally applied for risk assessment purposes do not overestimate copper effects. Interaction between copper and other stressors operating only in the field probably balance the higher bioavailability in spiked soil.