Succession on regraded placer mine spoil in Alaska, USA, in relation to initial site characteristics

Arctic and Alpine Research



This study evaluated the rate and pattern of natural succession on regraded placer mine spoil in relation to initial substrate characteristics. The study site was the Glen Creek watershed of the Kantishna mining area of Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. After regrading, twelve 0.01-ha plots were established and substrate characteristics were measured. Natural plant succession was evaluated after five growing seasons. Three successional patterns were identified on the basis of plant community characteristics using cluster analysis, and were related to substrate characteristics. First, a riparian plant community with vigorous Salix alaxensis and Alnus crispa grew rapidly on topsoil that had been spread over the regraded spoil. Second, a similar plant community with less vigorous S. alaxensis developed more slowly on unprocessed spoil and spoil amended with a small amount of topsoil. Third, processed spoil remained almost bare of vegetation, although S. alaxensis was able to establish and persist in a stunted growth form. In contrast, Alnus crispa had difficulty establishing on processed spoil, but the few established seedlings grew well. Several substrate variables, including the proportion of silt and clay vs. sand, total nitrogen, and water retention capacity, were good predictors of the rate and pattern of succession. Total nitrogen was the best single predictor for the number of vigorous S. alaxensis.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Succession on regraded placer mine spoil in Alaska, USA, in relation to initial site characteristics
Series title Arctic and Alpine Research
DOI 10.2307/1551797
Volume 26
Issue 4
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher INSTAAR, University of Colorado
Publisher location Boulder, CO
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 354
Last page 363
Public Comments The name of this journal has changed. At the time this article was published, the title was "Arctic and Alpine Research." It has since changed to "Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research."
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Denali National Park, Glen Creek watershed, Kantishna mining area
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