ISSN 1067-4136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2006, Vol. 37, No. 3, pp. 210–212. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2006.
Original Russian Text © A.P. Gusev, 2006, published in Ekologiya, 2006, No. 3, pp. 232–235.
Technogenic landscapes are widespread in areas
under development. When industrial activities cease,
successions begin in these landscapes, which lead to the
formation of regeneration ecosystems (
, 1979; Isakov et al., 1980). Successions on
technogenic substrates can be regarded as primary
(Rabotnov, 1983). Speciﬁc plant communities formed
as a result of these successions are the product of the
anthropogenic evolution of vegetation (Mirkin, 1985).
The study of these communities and processes of their
formation is necessary for planning reclamation works,
forecasting the development of deleterious environ-
mental processes, and evaluating the tolerance of natu-
ral landscapes to technogenic impact (Gusev, 2001).
The Gomel Chemical Plant (GCP), one of the larg-
est works of chemical industry in Belarus, produces
sulfuric and phosphoric acids, mineral salts (ammo-
phos, superphosphate, and nitrogen–phosphorus–
potassium fertilizers), aluminum ﬂuoride, cryolite, etc.
The technology used in GCP results in the formation of
about 3 t of solid phosphogypsum waste per ton of pro-
duced sulfuric acid. The amount of phosphogypsum
accumulated during more than 40 years reaches 15 mil-
lion tons, and its dumps occupy an area of more than 80
ha. Phosphogypsum in this dumpsite contains up to
40% of moisture; gypsum comprises about 97%, and
3% are accounted for by iron and aluminum phos-
phates, orthophosphoric acid, potassium and sodium
ﬂuorosilicates, and calcium ﬂuorides. The dumpsite is
a permanent source of sulfates, ﬂuorides, and phos-
phates polluting surface and ground waters and soil.
Water in surface streams near the dumpsite contains
1.5–30 g/l of total dissolved solids (TDS) and is highly
acidic (pH 1.5–3). Concentrations of TDS in the soil are
1.2–5 times higher than in neighboring areas.
The study area is in Belarussian Polesye, the region
with typical lowland landscapes, such as alluvial ter-
raced (42.5% of territory), secondary water-glacial,
lacustrine-bog, and ﬂoodplain landscapes. The climate
is moderately continental, average annual air tempera-
, and annual precipitation is 610 mm.
About 70% of precipitation falls from April to October.
Humidity coefﬁcient is 1.1–1.2.
The purpose of this study was to analyze primary
succession in vegetation growing on a toxic techno-
genic substrate (phosphogypsum) and, in particular, to
describe the species composition and ecological struc-
ture of plant cover at different stages of succession, to
study soil-forming processes on phosphogypsum
dumps, and to reveal the factors determining the rate of
plant establishment on them.
Field studies involved a geobotanical survey in
-m test plots (10 plots per stage) and an analysis of
soil–litter macrofauna (samples from the litter horizon,
cm) and soil formation (pits 1 m deep). Taking
into consideration topographic features of the dump-
site, studies were performed in three areas: near dumps,
in the lower one-third of dump slope, and the upper
parts of dumps (5–10 m above the ground level and
To study succession in the dumpsite, we constructed
an ecological-genetic series including plots on dumps
of different ages: up to 15 years (stage 1), 15–30 years
(stage 2), and more than 30 years (stage 3).
The establishment of the dumpsite resulted in com-
plete destruction of original ecosystems and the local
biota in general, producing a kind of biological vac-
uum, and gave rise to abiogenic migration in which
water and air ﬂows play the dominant role. The process
of colonization of the phosphogypsum substrate is tem-
porally and spatially nonuniform, because different
sites differ in the degree of their suitability for plants
and animals. For example, the pioneer groups of plants
appear ﬁrst of all in the sites where the erosion and
slope processes are less active and moisture and heat
supply are sufﬁcient.
Let us discuss the results of studies on succession
series in the dumpsite.
Primary Succession on Phosphogypsum Dumps
(Gomel Chemical Plant, Belarus)
A. P. Gusev
Frantsisk Skorina State University, ul. Sovetskaya 104, Gomel, 246019 Belarus;
Received May 24, 2005
: succession, phosphogypsum, dumps, plant cover.