Characterization of soil physico-chemical and microbial parameters after revegetation near Shaoguan Pb/Zn Smelter, Guangdong, P.R. China

Chong Bang Zhang*, Li Nan Huang, Ming Hung WONG, Jin Tao Zhang, Cheng Jie Zhai, Chong Yu Lan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The criterion for judging the successful revegetation largely focuses on the aboveground indicators, whereas the information for soil ecosystem during the revegetation is often ignored. To better understand the effects of the revegetation on the development of the soil ecosystem near Shaoguan Pb/Zn Smelter, Guangdong Province of Southern China, we compared the difference of the microbial and physico-chemical parameters between the four revegetated sites and two control sites (bare ground and native forest area). The soil organic C, total N, total P, NH4-N, NO3-N, available P, WHC and porosity significantly increased and bulk density decreased in the four revegetated sites compared with those in bare ground, indicating the processive effects of the revegetation on the reestablishment of the soil nutrient pools. The heavy metal contents were higher in the four revegetated sites than in the bare ground, thus the revegetation resulted in the accumulation of heavy metals released from smelter in surface soil. The soil microbial composition and activities, except that the oligotrophic bacterial number decreased over revegetation time, significantly increased in the revegetated sites compared with those in the bare ground, and predominantly correlated with soil organic C, total N, NH4-N, NO3-N and WHC. The soil oligotrophic bacteria was negatively related to all individual heavy metal contents, thus was the most sensitive indicator in reflecting heavy metal stress, while other microbial parameters, despite not showing negative relationships to the individual heavy metal contents, were sensitive to the potential availability of Pb and Cu (ratio of available to total heavy metal contents), but less sensitive to those of Zn and Cd. Both the principal component analysis (PCA) and the discriminant analysis (DA) resulted from microbial and physico-chemical datasets not only revealed the shifts of the soil physico-chemical and microbial patterns from the unrevegetated to non-polluted conditions, but also implied the possible loss of effects of revegetation on soil remediation in the sites revegetated for four (RIV) and five (RV) years, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-101
Number of pages21
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution

User-Defined Keywords

  • Heavy metal contents
  • Industrial barrens
  • Microbial composition and activity
  • Physico-chemical properties
  • Revegetation
  • Soil development


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