Carabassa V., Ortiz O., Alcañiz J.M. (2019) RESTOQUARRY: Indicators for self-evaluation of ecological restoration in open-pit mines. Ecological Indicators. 102: 437-445.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.03.001
Several methods and criteria to evaluate and assess quarry restoration are available in the scientific literature, but they are very specialized and time consuming. Furthermore, there is a lack of evaluation tools appropriate for technicians involved in these types of activities, such as quarry engineers, restoration managers and quality control supervisors in public administration. The work presented attempts to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and practical needs by proposing a simplified methodology (RESTOQUARRY protocol), which enables the non-scientific public to evaluate restored areas. This procedure focused on five groups of parameters for zone (homogeneous portions within the whole restored area) evaluation: geotechnical risk, drainage network, erosion and physical degradation, soil quality and vegetation status and functionality. Moreover, three groups of parameters are proposed for area (whole restoration) evaluation: landscape integration, ecological connectivity and fauna, and anthropic impacts. This protocol has been tested in 55 open-pit mines located throughout Catalonia (NE Iberian Peninsula), covering a wide range of Mediterranean climatic conditions and geological substrates. Results indicate that the proposed methodology is suitable for detecting critical parameters that can determine the success of the restoration. © 2019 Elsevier Ltd
Carabassa V., Ortiz O., Alcañiz J.M. (2018) Sewage sludge as an organic amendment for quarry restoration: Effects on soil and vegetation. Land Degradation and Development. 29: 2568-2574.LinkDoi: 10.1002/ldr.3071
Quarry restoration in Mediterranean environments usually needs organic amendments to improve the substrates used for technosol construction. Digested sewage sludges from municipal wastewater treatment plants are rich in organic matter, N, and P and constitute an available and economically interesting alternative for substrate amendment. However, their pollutant burden and labile organic matter content involve an environmental risk that must be controlled. Moreover, ecological succession in restored areas can be influenced by the use of sludge and should be assessed. To minimize these risks, a new sewage sludge dose criterion relating to its labile organic matter and heavy metal content has been established. Sewage sludge doses currently range between 10 and 50 Mg ha−1. In order to verify the suitability of this dose criterion, 16 areas rehabilitated using sewage sludge located in limestone quarries in a Mediterranean climate in Catalonia (NE Spain) have been assessed. These evaluations focused on physicochemical properties of rehabilitated soils, land degradation processes, and ecological succession. In the short term, 6 months after sludge application, an increment of organic matter content in the restored soils was observed, without significant increases in electrical conductivity or heavy metals content, and with a dense plant cover that contributes to effective soil erosion control. Two years after, ruderal plants were still present but later successional species colonized the restored zones in different degrees. These results suggest that sewage sludge, used as a soil amendment according to the proposed methodology, can safely improve technosol quality without constraints that compromise ecological succession. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
MELAS, G.B., ORTIZ, O., ALACAÑIZ, J.M. (2017) Can Biochar Protect Labile Organic Matter Against Mineralization in Soil?. Pedosphere. 27: 822-831.LinkDoi: 10.1016/S1002-0160(17)60421-1
Ojeda G., Ortiz O., Medina C.R., Perera I., Alcaniz J.M. (2015) Carbon sequestration in a limestone quarry mine soil amended with sewage sludge. Soil Use and Management. : 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1111/sum.12179
To reclaim a limestone quarry, 200 and 400 Mg/ha of municipal sewage sludge were mixed with an infertile calcareous substrate and spread as mine soil in 1992. Soil samples were taken 1 week later and again after 17 yr of mine soil rehabilitation so as to assess changes in the amount and persistence of soil organic carbon (SOC). Sludge application increased SOC as a function of the sludge rate at both sampling times. Seventeen years after the sludge amendments, the nonhydrolysable carbon was increased in the 400 Mg/ha of sludge treatment. The recalcitrance of SOC was less in sludge-amended soils than in the control treatment at the initial sampling, but 17 yr later this trend had reversed, showing qualitative changes in soil organic carbon. The CO2-C production had not differed between treatments, yet the percentage of mineralized SOC was less in the high sludge dose. When the size of active (Cactive) and slow (Cslow) potentially mineralizable C pools was calculated by curve fitting of a double-exponential equation, the proportion of Cactive was observed to be smaller in the 400 Mg/ha sludge treatment. Soil aggregate stability, represented by the mean weight diameter of water-stable soil aggregates, was significantly greater in mine soil treated with the high dose of sludge (18.5%) and SOC tended to be concentrated in macro-aggregates (5-2 mm). Results suggest that SOC content in sludge-amended plots was preserved due by (i) replacement of the labile organic carbon of sludge by more stable compounds and (ii) protection of SOC in aggregates. © 2015 British Society of Soil Science.
Mattana S., Petrovicova B., Landi L., Gelsomino A., Cortes P., Ortiz O., Renella G. (2014) Sewage sludge processing determines its impact on soil microbial community structure and function. Applied Soil Ecology. 75: 150-161.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2013.11.007
Composting and thermal drying are amongst the most commonly used post-digestion processes for allowing sanitation and biological stabilization of sewage sludge from municipal treatment plants, and making it suitable as soil conditioner for use in agriculture. To assess the impact of sludge-derived materials on soil microbial properties, fresh (LAF), composted (LAC) and thermally dried (LAT) sludge fractions, each resulting from a different post-treatment process of a same aerobically digested sewage sludge, were added at 1% (w/w) application rate on two contrasting (a loam and a loamy sand) soils and incubated under laboratory conditions for 28 days. Soil respiration, microbial ATP content, hydrolytic activities and arginine ammonification rate were monitored throughout the incubation period. Results showed that soil biochemical variables, including the metabolic quotient (qCO2), were markedly stimulated after sludge application, and the magnitude of this stimulatory effect was dependent on sludge type (precisely LAT>LAF>LAC), but not on soil type. This effect was related to the content of stable organic matter, which was lower in LAT. Genetic fingerprinting by PCR-DGGE revealed that compositional shifts of soil bacterial and, at greater extent, actinobacterial communities were responsive to the amendment with a differing sludge fraction. The observed time-dependent changes in the DGGE profiles of amended soils reflected the microbial turnover dependent on the sludge nutrient input, whereas no indications of adverse effects of sludge-borne contaminants were noted. Our findings indicate that composting rather thermal drying can represent a more appropriate post-digestion process to make sewage sludge suitable for use as soil conditioner in agriculture. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
Tarrason D., Ojeda G., Ortiz O., Alcaniz J.M. (2014) Can organic amendments be useful in transforming a mediterranean shrubland into a dehesa?. Restoration Ecology. 22: 486-494.LinkDoi: 10.1111/rec.12092
Transforming a shrubland into a dehesa system may be useful for recovering certain productive and regulatory functions of ecosystems such as grazing potential, soil erosion control, and also for reducing the risk of wildfire. However, the productivity of the herbaceous cover and tree development in the transformed system may be limited by soil fertility, especially after wildfire events. Previous studies have shown that adequate doses of sewage sludge may improve soil fertility and facilitate plant recovery, but few studies have focused on plant biodiversity assessment. Here, we compare the effects of sewage sludge that has undergone different post-treatments (dewatering, composting, or thermal drying) as a soil amendment used to transform a fire-affected shrubland into a dehesa, on tree growth and pasture composition (vegetation cover, species richness, and diversity). In the short term, sewage sludge causes changes in both pasture cover and tree growth. Although no major differences in vegetation species richness and composition have been detected, fertilization using sewage sludge was shown to modify the functional diversity of the vegetation community. Rapid replacement of shrubs by herbaceous cover and ruderal plants (e.g. Bromus hordeaceus and Leontodon taraxacoides) and of the three grass species sown (Festuca arundinacea, Lolium perenne, and Dactylis glomerata) was observed, whereas N-fixing species (leguminous) tended to be more abundant in nonfertilized soils and soils amended with composted sludge. These results indicate that sewage sludge modifies the functionality of vegetation when applied to soils, and that the response varies according to the treatment that the sludge has undergone. © 2014 Society for Ecological Restoration.
Ojeda G., Patrício J., Navajas H., Comellas L., Alcañiz J.M., Ortiz O., Marks E., Natal-da-Luz T., Sousa J.P. (2013) Effects of nonylphenols on soil microbial activity and water retention. Applied Soil Ecology. 64: 77-83.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2012.10.012
The main aim of this study is to analyze the influence of 4-nonylphenol (NP) on soil water retention and biological activity. Two doses of 4-nonylphenol (25 and 50mgkg-1) were tested in a loam soil with and without peat amendment. In general, one week after the start of the experiment, the soil water content retained at -0.75MPa of soil suction was 18% higher in the soil amended and its basal respiration (BR) was 15% higher than soil without peat. In contrast, the microbial activity indices (CM: coefficient of mineralization or BR:total organic carbon (TOC) ratio; Cmic:Corg: microbial biomass carbon (MBC):TOC ratio; qCO2: metabolic quotient or BR:MBC ratio) were higher in the soil without peat, compared to the soil amended with peat. On the other hand, the addition of NP to soil was able to modify soil biological but not physical (water retention, desorption) properties. When soil was amended with peat, MBC was reduced one week after applying NP. In contrast, no effects of NP on MBC were observed in the soil without peat. BR was reduced by 16% one week after applying 50mgkg-1 of NP to soil with peat, and was increased by 46% one week after applying 25mgkg-1 of NP to soil without peat. The effects of NP on MBC and BR could be associated more with the adsorption of NP by soil organic matter, while changes in CM or Cmic:Corg ratio were more closely related to changes in soil water retention. The potential toxic effects of NP (high qCO2 values) were only observed in the absence of peat amendments. Peat addition reduced NP toxic effects on microorganisms. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
Ortiz O., Ojeda G., Espelta J.M., Alcañiz J.M. (2012) Improving substrate fertility to enhance growth and reproductive ability of a Pinus halepensis Mill. afforestation in a restored limestone quarry. New Forests. 43: 365-381.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s11056-011-9286-4
We have evaluated the effects of improving substrate fertility on the growth and reproduction of a P. halepensis plantation in a restored limestone quarry on a stony calcareous regolith (R plots). The natural substrate was supplemented by adding a 0.2 m layer of a fine textured soil (RS plots) or a sewage sludge amended soil (RSS plots). The treatments were performed when the pines were 7 years old, and tree growth (height and trunk and canopy diameter) was monitored over the subsequent 12 years. The reproductive status of the trees was also measured when the pines were 20 years old. Tree growth was proportional to the amount of soil nutrients: 12 years after treatment the mean height of the R, RS and RSS trees was 1.5, 3.1 and 6.2 m respectively and growth increases over the baseline were 76, 264 and 632%. The treatment also affected the age of onset of reproduction (15, 11 and 9 years, respectively), the average number of cones per tree (12, 43 and 61), and the amount of seeds per cone (37, 52 and 72), but did not modify the germination percentage of pine seeds (ca 71.5%). Soil organic carbon increased proportionally to the vegetation development, contributing to carbon sequestration. These results suggest that improving the nutritional status of the soil not only improves the growth of trees, but it also ameliorates their reproductive ability (earlier reproduction onset and larger seed crop size). Implications for soil restoration through afforestation are also discussed. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Carabassa V, Ortiz O, Alcañiz JM (2012) Protocol per a l'avaluació de la restauració d'activitats extractives (Restocat). CREAF-Generalitat de Catalunya (Departament de territori i Sostenibilitat). ISBN 978-84-615-9033-9.
Carabassa V, Serra E, Pedra M, Ortiz O, Alcañiz JM (2012) Protocolo para la autoevaluación de las restauraciones efectuadas en actividades mineras. Jornadas científico-técnicas de Restauración Ecológica en áreas afectadas por la minería, Fundación Ciudad de la Energía, Gobierno de España, Ponferrada, 8-11 de Mayo de 2012. CD de resúmenes.
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