Metal toxicity and biodiversity in serpentine soils: Application of bioassay tests and microarthropod index
Chemosphere | 31 Oct 2012
G Visioli, C Menta, C Gardi and FD Conti
Eco-toxicological or bioassay tests have been intensively discussed as tools for the evaluation of soil quality. Tests using soil organisms, including microarthropods and plants, allow direct estimates to be made of important soil characteristics and functions. In this study we compared the results obtained by two in vitro standard bioassays following ISO or OECD guidelines: (i) the short term-chronic phytotoxicity germination and root elongation test using three different plant species Cucumis sativus L. (Cucurbitaceae), Lepidium sativum L. (Brassicaceae), and Medicago sativa L. (Fabaceae) and (ii) the inhibition of reproduction of Folsomia candida (Collembola) by soil pollutants to investigate the toxicity of a serpentine soil present in the Italian Apennines, rich in heavy metals such as Ni, Cr, and Co. In addition, microarthropod communities were characterised to evaluate the effects of metal contents on the soil fauna in natural conditions. Abundances, Acari/Collembola ratio, biodiversity indices and the QBS-ar index were calculated. Our results demonstrate that the two in vitro tests distinguish differences correlated with metal and organic matter contents in four sub-sites within the serpentinite. Soil fauna characterisation, not previously performed on serpentine soils, revealed differences in the most vulnerable and adapted groups of microarthropods to soil among the four sub-sites: the microarthropod community was found to be rich in term of biodiversity in the sub-site characterised by a lower metal content and a higher organic matter content and vegetation.
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