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Factors affecting the variation in floral diversity on two reclaimed coal mine sites

Ridealgh, Michael (2011) Factors affecting the variation in floral diversity on two reclaimed coal mine sites. MSc by research thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

An investigation was carried out into the plant community status of two ex-coal mine sites near Wakefield - Upton and Fitzwilliam. The investigation set out to understand the ways in which the underlying geology, the historical and industrial development and the reclamation processes had influenced the plant composition. An assessment of the condition of each site was also undertaken using local volunteers. Species cover was assessed with 1 m2 quadrats, using the Domin Scale; soil samples from these quadrats were analysed for pH, % moisture, % carbon, % nitrogen, ammonium-N and nitrate-N, phosphorus, lead, zinc, calcium and magnesium. The reclamation processes were discovered to have been different at each site, and where brick rubble had been spread, it was found to be having a significant effect. The Upton site illustrated well the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis, with the old railway cutting acting as a refuge and the construction of drainage scrapes in 2009 had led to new colonisation. As a result, Upton was more species rich (91), whereas at Fitzwilliam, there was less disturbance and lower species richness (33). At Upton, the Spout Lane Fault divided the site between the Permian Limestone and the Coal Measures and this resulted in a distinct change in the plant communities across the fault, as identified by ordination and TWINSPAN. There was a strong relationship between the C: N ratios and the limestone. Nitrogen was found to be an important driver of species composition and in turn correlated with pH and moisture, which were influenced by the underlying geology. At Fitzwilliam, where there is no underlying limestone, the relationship with calcium and magnesium concentrations was still quite strong, due in part to the underlying sandstone aquifer having groundwater of the calcium bicarbonate type, and to the reclamation process.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc by research)
Keywords: species richness; geology; fault; pH; C: N ratio; aquifer; reclamation; Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis
Academic Units: The University of York > Environment (York)
Depositing User: Mr Michael Ridealgh
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2011 13:50
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1938

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