We assessed the quality of plant communities across a range of lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn) soil concentrations at a variety of sites associated with Pb mining in southeast Missouri, USA. In a novel application, two standard floristic quality measures, Mean Coefficient of Conservatism (Mean C) and Floristic Quality Index (FQI), were examined in relation to concentrations of Pb and Zn, soil nutrients, and other soil characteristics. Nonmetric Multidimensional Scaling and Regression Tree Analyses identified soil Pb and Zn concentrations as primary explanatory variables for plant community composition and indicated negative relationships between soil metals concentrations and both Mean C and FQI. Univariate regression also demonstrated significant negative relationships between metals concentrations and floristic quality. The negative effects of metals in native soils with otherwise relatively undisturbed conditions indicate that elevated soil metals concentrations adversely affect native floristic quality where no other human disturbance is evident.
Additional publication details
Effects of mining-associated lead and zinc soil contamination on native floristic quality