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Growth of Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin ex. Steudel in mine water treatment wetlands: Effects of metal and nutrient uptake

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Paul Younger


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The abandoned mine of Shilbottle Colliery, Northumberland, UK is an example of acidic spoil heap discharge that contains elevated levels of many metals. Aerobic wetlands planted with the common reed, Phragmites australis, were constructed at the site to treat surface runoff from the spoil heap. The presence of a perched water table within the spoil heap resulted in the lower wetlands receiving acidic metal contaminated water from within the spoil heap while the upper wetland receives alkaline, uncontaminated surface runoff from the revegetated spoil. This unique situation enabled the comparison of metal uptake and growth of plants used in treatment schemes in two cognate wetlands. Results indicated a significant difference in plant growth between the two wetlands in terms of shoot height and seed production. Analyses of metal and nutrient concentrations within plant tissues provided the basis for three hypotheses to explain these differences: (i) the toxic effects of high levels of metals in shoot tissues, (ii) the inhibition of Ca (an essential nutrient) uptake by the presence of metals and H+ ions, and (iii) low concentrations of bioavailable nitrogen sources resulting in nitrogen deficiency. This has important implications for the engineering of constructed wetlands in terms of the potential success of plant establishment and vegetation development. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Batty LC, Younger PL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Pollution

Year: 2004

Volume: 132

Issue: 1

Pages: 85-93

ISSN (print): 0269-7491

ISSN (electronic): 1873-6424

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2004.03.022

PubMed id: 15276276


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