Improving rehabilitation outcomes using biocrusts

Doudle, S., Williams, W. and Galea., V. (2011). Improving rehabilitation outcomes using biocrusts. In: Eight International Heavy Minerals Conference 2011. Eight International Heavy Minerals Conference 2011, Perth, WA, Australia, (85-97). 5-6 October 2011.

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Author Doudle, S.
Williams, W.
Galea., V.
Title of paper Improving rehabilitation outcomes using biocrusts
Conference name Eight International Heavy Minerals Conference 2011
Conference location Perth, WA, Australia
Conference dates 5-6 October 2011
Proceedings title Eight International Heavy Minerals Conference 2011
Journal name 8th International Heavy Minerals Conference 2011
Place of Publication Carlton South, VIC, Australia
Publisher Australasian Institute for Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM)
Publication Year 2011
Sub-type Fully published paper
ISBN 9781618392237
Start page 85
End page 97
Total pages 13
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Abstract/Summary The Iluka Resources Ltd Jacinth-Ambrosia heavy mineral sand mine (South Australia) is located in an undisturbed semi-arid landscape consisting of sparse trees, shrubs and grasses. The soil interspaces are covered with biocrusts, a living soil cover also found worldwide in arid regions. Biocrusts are composed of lichens, cyanobacteria, algae, mosses, liverworts, fungi and bacteria, and live on and within the fi rst few millimetres of the soil surface. Biocrust organisms bind soil particles, sequester carbon and many fix atmospheric nitrogen making them important structural and functional components of ecosystems. Despite their important role in ecological processes, biocrusts are susceptible to disturbance; nevertheless they can recover provided suffi cient inoculum is present. Cyanobacteria are the early colonisers and they capture atmospheric and landscape resources and establish conditions that subsequent successional seres can capitalise on. Research conducted in countries including China, Spain and South Africa has been focused on methods to either encourage rapid regeneration of cyanobacterial remnants or to introduce new material from cultured cyanobacteria. We have been investigating the extent and diversity of biocrusts across the 4500 ha mine lease and their potential to improve mining rehabilitation outcomes. Approximately 46 per cent of the soil surfaces are colonised with biocrusts and 33 taxa have been identified. Laboratory experiments were designed to mimic massive soil disturbance and treated with a range of water qualities. Within 22 days, treatments irrigated with fresh water were colonised by new cyanobacterial filaments with a mean surface coverage of 65 per cent. Secondary tests revealed that differences in the photosynthetic yield of the crust were dependent on the salinity levels of the irrigation water used. In 2011 this program is expanding from the laboratory into field scale trials designed to assess both the potential and practicalities of up scaling these techniques to provide crushed biocrusts and cyanobacterial bio-inoculum for use in mine rehabilitation.
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Created: Thu, 23 Feb 2012, 12:38:52 EST by Dr Victor Galea on behalf of School of Agriculture and Food Sciences