Using canonical correspondence analysis (CCA), relationships were investigated between plant species composition and flooding characteristics, heavy metal contamination and soil properties in a lowland floodplain of the Rhine River. Floodplain elevation and yearly average flooding duration turned out to be more important for explaining variation in plant species composition than soil heavy metal contamination. Nevertheless, plant species richness and diversity showed a significant decrease with the level of contamination. As single heavy metal concentrations seemed mostly too low for causing phytotoxic effects in plants, this trend is possibly explained by additive effects of multiple contaminants or by the concomitant influences of contamination and non-chemical stressors like flooding. These results suggest that impacts of soil contamination on plants in floodplains could be larger than expected from mere soil concentrations. In general, these findings emphasize the relevance of analyzing effects of toxic substances in concert with the effects of other relevant stressors.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 2011
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