Authors: Rossouw, J; van Rensburg, L; Claassens, S; Jansen van Rensburg, PJ

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Rossouw, J, van Rensburg, L, Claassens, S & Jansen van Rensburg, PJ 2008, 'Nematodes as Indicators of Soil Ecosystem Development During Platinum Mine Tailings Rehabilitation', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett, I Weiersbye & P Dye (eds), Mine Closure 2008: Proceedings of the Third International Seminar on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 831-841,

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Nematodes are widespread throughout many terrestrial ecosystems, and have shown potential to be used as indicators of soil ecosystem development. In this paper, nematode indices of soil are used to distinguish between two different treatment types during the rehabilitation of platinum mine tailing. In the two different soil treatment types, through the addition of woodchip-vermicompost and inorganic fertilizer, soil of both treatments had a higher number of nematode species in the soil than the control following a period of 24 months. Of the seventeen genera identified, Rhabditida dominated in all sites. A significant difference (p <0.05) was observed between plant parasitic indices of both treatments and the control soils. The main decomposition pathway was dominated by bacteria for all sites as evident from the Channel index values, which is indicative of the dominant decomposition pathways. The dominance of bacterial feeding nematodes and the high number of nematodes feeding on higher plants indicate that the platinum mine tailings sites may be in an initial stage of succession. The enrichment index which describes the overall food web conditions within the soils, indicates that the woodchip-vermicompost treatment soil system may have a low C:N ratio and be nutrient enriched. In the third sampling period (after 18 months) an increase in food web complexity was observed in the woodchip-vermicompost treatment sites indicating recovery from disturbance.

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