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Mine land rehabilitation: Modern ecological approaches for more sustainable mining

Gastauer, Markus, Silva, Joyce Reis, Caldeira Junior, Cecílio Fróis, Ramos, Silvio Junio, Souza Filho, Pedro Walfir Martins, Furtini Neto, Antonio Eduardo, Siqueira, José Oswaldo
Journal of cleaner production 2018 v.172 pp. 1409-1422
DNA barcoding, biogeochemical cycles, ecological function, ecological invasion, ecosystems, indigenous species, intraspecific variation, land restoration, mining, monitoring, phylogeny, remote sensing, uncertainty
Despite the urgent demand for sustainable mining, the revegetation and rehabilitation of areas degraded by mining activities remain challenging. Uncertainties about species selection, the management and control of alien invasive species and monitoring procedures require ongoing multidisciplinary research. Modern functional and phylogenetic approaches in community ecology represent powerful tools to enhance the entire rehabilitation process and to overcome these challenges, but methodologies that incorporate up-to-date phylogenetic information or knowledge about intraspecific variation along rehabilitation trajectories must be developed. Functional and phylogenetic criteria may play an especially important role in guiding the definition of faster-growing, more resistant species mixtures that can be applied in mine land revegetation and rehabilitation. Limiting similarity approaches may help to reduce biological invasions, enabling native vegetation to outcompete alien invasive species and aiding in the development of enduring mechanisms for controlling such species in rehabilitated mine land. Finally, incorporating phylogenetic and functional aspects into monitoring of the success of mine land rehabilitation with additional tools, such as remote sensing or metabarcoding, can enrich scientific knowledge about ecosystem functions such as nutrient cycling, community assembly and resource availability while providing sound information about the success of revegetation activities. In the middle to long term, research activities on these topics can provide valuable technical recommendations for all aspects of the management of rehabilitated ecosystems, thus contributing to more sustainable mining.