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The secrets in our soils: Using soil bacteria to monitor mine site restoration across a 40-year chronosequence in an arid environment in Western Australia

Borrett, Ryan J. (2020) The secrets in our soils: Using soil bacteria to monitor mine site restoration across a 40-year chronosequence in an arid environment in Western Australia. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Very little is known about the patterns of recovery and processes of soil biota following land ecological restoration of native ecosystems cleared for mining. Despite this, there is increasing recognition of the importance of soil biota for restoration of critical ecosystem processes. The emergence of new eDNA metabarcoding technologies now enable the high throughput assessment and characterisation of these previously hidden belowground communities. Here, I sampled soil bacterial communities from a 40-year rehabilitation chronosequence of a mineral sands mine in an arid environment in southwest Western Australia. The assemblages displayed strong differences in composition across differently aged rehabilitated sites. A general recovery trend toward the native, undisturbed state was observed, with some notable phyla and orders showing strong trajectories of recovery to native assemblages with increasing time since rehabilitation. These shifting taxonomic patterns were accompanied by changes in putative functional assignments of ecological processes including carbon and nitrogen cycling. This analysis of spatial and temporal patterns of diversity and association with environmental conditions in natural and differently aged rehabilitated ecosystems can be used to monitor recovery progress and trajectories, and aid future restoration goal setting and decision making.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Supervisor(s): Standish, Rachel, Krauss, Siegy and Dobrowolski, Mark
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/64684
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