Geological and Environmental Engineering | Article | Published 2014-03-28
The main goal of the present study was to determine the effect of the native vegetation on the successive development of the soil ecosystem at abandoned coal-ash landfills of the Angren coal-fired power plant in Uzbekistan. Two different landfills (one not in use for 3 years, termed newer, and the other not in use for 10 years, termed older) with different degrees of vegetation cover were chosen to assess the time and vegetation effects on soil biota and habitat development. The soil biotic structure, including soil microorganisms and soil free-living nematode communities, was investigated both at open plots and under different native plants at the coal-ash landfill area. The observed soil microorganisms were found to be the most important component of the observed ecosystems. Total abundance, biomass, species, trophic and sexual diversity of soil free-living nematodes, along with fungi and organic-matter content, were found to be correlated with trace metals. The nematode trophic and species abundance and diversity increased from the newer toward the older coal-ash landfills. The sex ratio of the nematode communities was found to be dependent on the environmental conditions of the study area, with the males being the most sensitive nematode group. All applied ecological indices confirmed that open landfill plots distant from plants are the most unfavorable areas for soil biota. In that respect, the native plants Alhagi maurorum Desv. and Tamarix sp. were found to be important environmental components for the natural remediation of a soil ecosystem in the coal-ash landfill area.