The biodiversity of restored landfill sites: a new study of snails just published

Snails - 20160813_124310

The latest paper in a series* studying the biodiversity of restored landfill sites in comparison to nearby nature reserves has just been published.  This work comes from the linked PhD research of two of our former students, Dr Lutfor Rahman and Dr Sam Tarrant.

This new paper deals with the larger snails to be found on these novel grasslands and assesses the value of such sites for conserving the diversity of an ecologically important group of molluscs.  Snails play a vital role in nutrient turnover and are a major food source for higher trophic levels, such as some birds, small mammals, and beetles.

The take home message from the study:  restored landfill sites are as rich in species as nature reserves, but a higher proportion is of non-native, introduced species.

Here’s a link to the paper, with the abstract below; it’s paywalled but if you’d like a PDF, just ask:

Rahman, L. Md., Tarrant, S.,Ollerton, J. & McCollin, D. (2016) Effect of soil conditions and landscape factors on macro-snail communities in newly created grasslands of restored landfill sites in the UK.  Zoology and Ecology (in press)

 

Abstract

Though restored landfill sites provide habitat for a number of taxa, their potential for land snails remains unexplored. In this study, large-sized land snails (>5 mm) were surveyed using transect sampling at nine restored landfill sites and nine corresponding nature sites in the East Midlands region of the UK, during 2008. The effect of restoration was investigated by examining the composition, richness and diversity (Shannon index) of land snail species in relation to habitat and landscape structure. Thirteen macro-snail species were recorded in total, and rarefied species richness and diversity at restored landfill sites was not found to be statistically different from that of reference sites. One third of the snail species at restored landfill sites accounting for 30% of their total abundance were non-native species. Soil electrical conductivity was the strongest predictor of richness and diversity of land snails. Road density was found to be positively related to snail species diversity. Given the high percentage of introduced species at study sites, further research is needed to elucidate management implications of restored landfill sites and dynamics of native vs. non-native species.

 

*The other papers in this series are:

Rahman, L. Md., Tarrant, S., McCollin, D. & Ollerton, J. (2015) Vegetation cover and grasslands in the vicinity accelerate development of carabid beetle assemblages on restored landfill sites. Zoology and Ecology 25: 347-354

Tarrant, S., Ollerton, J., Rahman, L. Md., Griffin, J. & McCollin, D. (2013) Grassland restoration on landfill sites in the East Midlands, UK: an evaluation of floral resources and pollinating insects. Restoration Ecology 21: 560–568

Rahman, L. Md., Tarrant, S., McCollin, D. Ollerton, J. (2013) Plant community composition and attributes reveal conservation implications for newly created grassland on capped landfill sites. Journal for Nature Conservation 21: 198-205

Rahman, L. Md., Tarrant, S., McCollin, D. & Ollerton, J. (2012) Influence of habitat quality, landscape structure and food resources on breeding skylark (Alauda arvensis) territory distribution on restored landfill sites. Landscape and Urban Planning 105: 281–287

Rahman, L. Md., Tarrant, S., McCollin, D. and Ollerton, J. (2011) The conservation value of restored landfill sites in the East Midlands, UK for supporting bird communities. Biodiversity and Conservation 20: 1879-1893

Again, if you’d like PDFs of any of these, just ask.

 

 

 

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3 Comments

Filed under Biodiversity, Snails, University of Northampton

3 responses to “The biodiversity of restored landfill sites: a new study of snails just published

  1. Steve Hawkins

    Wrong comparison really. They should have compared its biodiversity as a brownfield site before it was turned into a mere park. If it was anything like Luton’s airport tip, it was an amazing wilderness of wildlife, where almost any plant or animal could turn up, and one could get lost in the undergrowth. Then they turned it into a boring ordinary grass park and removed any reason to go there and explore.

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    • Some of the sites were like that, Steve, simply left to regenerate naturally, and this was incorporated into the statistical models. But we found that it had no effect on snail richness.

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      • Steve Hawkins

        Surprising: I’d have thought there would be more niches and scale in the ‘wild’ version, but I expect a lot depends on how imaginative is the restoration plan. They left a few strips of longer grass and trees along drainage lines at Luton, but it was mostly just mown grass. One thing that did surprise me though, was how fast mushroom rings grew on the football pitches. I had a few good pickings. Long time since I’ve been there now though.

        Liked by 1 person

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