Vol.2, No.6, 600-6 11 (2010) Natural Science
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
Evolution of technogenic landscapes by the example of
apatite-nepheline ore concentration wastes
Vladimir N. Pereverzev1, Galina A. Evdokimova2*, Irina V. Zenkova2,
Maria V. Korneykova2, Vera V. Redkina2
1Laboratory of Soil Science, Polar-Alpine Botanical Garden Institute, Kola Science Centre of Russian Academy of Sciences, Apatity,
2Laboratory of Microorganisms Ecology, Institute of the North Industrial Ecology Problems, Kola Science Centre of Russian Acad-
emy of Sciences, Apatity, Russia; *Corresponding Author: galina@inep.ksc.ru
Received 10 February 2010; revised 30 April 2010; accepted 13 May 2010.
A primary soil-forming process can take place
on the concentration waste of apatite-nepheline
ores, whose biological recultivation was carried
out more than 40 years ago. This process is
characterized by the following features: forming
of a thin litter with the content of organic carbon
at the level of 8-12%, accumulation of humic
substances in the sub-litter layer and the cha-
nge of рН values. Microorganisms are biocata-
lysts of primary soil formation processes and
one of the main factors that determine the spe-
cificity of this process. The prokaryotic complex
of the newly formed soils, generated from neph-
eline sands, is considerably different from that
of zonal soils on moraine sediments. The former
ones are dominated by gram-positive bacteria,
mainly actinobacteria, as well as by their filam-
entous forms (actinomycetes), whereas the lat-
ter ones are dominated by gram-negative bac-
teria. A common feature of invertebrate’s com-
plexes in nepheline sands is the low species
diversity, small-size and quickly development of
microfauna and mesofauna representatives and
the dependence of succession of microarthro-
pods pioneer groups on the succession of bac-
teria and fungi.
Keywords: Soil-Forming Process ; Nepheline
Sands; Organic Matter; Soil Biota
The mining and processing industry, which in the Mur-
mansk region comprises several large enterprises, dam-
ages natural landscapes both as a result of open mining
operations and due to the generation of overburden and
mineral concentration waste dumps. As a result of activ-
ity of large concentration mills a large number of ore
processing wastes are generated and stored in tailing
dumps. The total area of territories covered by the tailing
dumps in the Murmansk region at present makes about 5
thousand hectares. The operating and dormant tailing
dumps represent a source of significant dusting of adja-
cent areas, since erosion processes are much developed
on them as well as in natural and man-induced deserts.
On the other hand tailing dumps can be considered as
man-induced deposits that can be used in the future for
recovery of valuable elements as soon as new techniques
are introduced.
The investigation of primary soil formation processes,
which take place on nepheline sands, was carried out
from May to October 2005-2008 every years on tailing
dumps with different duration of waste storage: 0, 10, 20,
30, 40 years. As a whole 180 sand samples have been
taken for chemical and microbiological analyses and 300
samples for the zoological one.
Nepheline sands, as wastes of apatite-nepheline ores
concentration, represent a soil-forming rock which is
untypical for cold damp conditions. Nepheline sands are
similar to the widespread in the region moraine, sea and
fluvioglacial sands, on which dominating Al-Fe-humus
podzols were formed, only by their granulometric com-
position. As well as in other soil-forming rocks, the
mineral bulk of nepheline wastes comprise of fine sand
fractions (0.25-0.05 mm – 29-31% in a layer of 0-15 sm)
and coarse dust (0.05-0.01mm 56-59%) with insigni-
ficant content of slime particles (< 0.001 mm
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Copyright © 2010 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
A peculiarity of granulometric composition of neph-
eline sands is its heterogeneity with depths which is a
consequence of influence of different conditions of de-
posit accumulation in the course of tailing dump filling.
By their bulk chemical composition nepheline sands
significant differ from natural quaternary deposits (Ta-
ble 1). The content of SiO2 in them can be an indicator
of high-, or low-grade soil-forming rocks. It is natural
that the less the content of this element in rock, the
higher the content of other elements including the bio-
genic ones, which determine the direction and intensity
of biogeochemical processes in ecosystems. Sandy rocks
with content of SiO2 of 80-85% belong to high grade
In the Murmansk region the most widespread sea and
continental rocks represented mainly by sands and sandy
loams, differ from similar rocks of other northern re-
gions by higher grade of chemical composition with the
SiO2 content of 65-67%. Eluvium of nepheline syenites
on which the soils of tundra belt of the Khibiny were
generated is characterized by even higher grade compo-
sition (SiO2 < 60%). The composition of nepheline sands
usually includes about 40% of SiO2. They belong to very
high grade rocks in their chemical composition. It con-
tains considerable stocks of biogenic elements
phorus and potassium. Since apatite-nepheline ore does
not contain any quartz, Si in them is represented by sili-
cates, by basically nepheline (NaAlSiO4). In the course
of ore concentration the share of nepheline increases
from 32 to 57%.
The content of Р in nepheline sand is an order of mag-
nitude higher than in moraine rocks since they contain
apatite, not completely recovered in the process of ore
concentration. Nepheline sands in terms of their supply
with phosphorus also differ from cultivated soils both
quantitatively, and qualitatively. They contain significa-
ntly more total phosphorus, but phosphorus is repre-
sented in them only by one composition—tricalcium
phosphate (apatite).
Table 1. Total chemical composition of nepheline and moraine
sand, percentage on ignited sample.
Rock SiO2 Al2O3 Fe2O3 CaO MgO
sands 41.0 ± 0.6 21.0 ± 0.4 8.5 ± 0.3 6.5 ± 0.6 1.3 ± 0.1
sands 65.7 ± 1.3 13.8 ± 0.5 5.4 ± 0.3 4.1 ± 0.3 2.1 ± 0.2
Rock Ti O2 P2O5 MnO K2O Na2O
sands 2.6 ± 0.1 3.6 ± 0.6 0.18 ± 0.01 4.9 ± 0.1 10.7 ± 0.4
sands 0.9 ± 0.1 0.4 ± 0.1 0.12 ± 0.01 2.2 ± 0.3 3.7 ± 0.1
In soil, however, besides apatite, numerous other min-
eral compositions of phosphorus are present and, besides,
some part of phosphates is a part of organic composi-
tions [1,2]. Apatite is weakly soluble at the impact of
soil solutions, therefore, despite the considerable content
of phosphorus in nepheline sands, the cultivation of pe-
rennial grasses on them is impossible without introduc-
ing phosphoric mineral fertilizers.
The amount of potassium in tailings also exceeds that
in moraine. On the average it makes 5%, which exceeds
2 times the content of this element in the cultivated
podzolic soils [3].
Nepheline sands as a оbject of biological recultivation
differ from zonal soils in the condition cation exchange
capacity and the acid-base characteristics. If all soils
generated on quaternary sediments are characterized by
an acid medium, the nepheline sands have рН values in
the alkaline range both in water, and salt suspensions
(Table 2). In the course of long interaction of sands with
the vegetative cover in the top part of mineral profile (to
the depth of 20 sm) the reaction of medium in salt sus-
pension changes into the acid range. While in deeper
layers it remained alkaline. In water suspension the reac-
tion of medium was alkaline at all depths. Other forms
of acidity—the hydrolytic and the exchange onesare
also characterized by low indices not typical for zonal
Thus, the reaction of nepheline sands fundamentally
differs from that of zonal soils. At the same time the
distribution of рН values both in sands and in soils,
which follows the general lawwith depth the reaction
of medium shifts towards neutral or alkaline values. It is
in that the influence of eluvial processes tells on the
mineral profile.
Initial nepheline sands are devoid of organic sub-
stance of biological origin. Presence of organic carbon in
them is due to the remains of flotation reagents—a mix-
ture of resin and fatty acids used in the technological
process during that period. They are rather stable in time,
which is confirmed by the presence of organic carbon in
nepheline sands of 20-30-years “age”. The content of
organic carbon of technogenic origin in sands makes
Table 2. Average рН values in nepheline sands and podzols.
Depth, sm
рН (Н2О) рН (KСl)
Soil on sands Podzol Soil on sands Podzol
0-1 7.1 4.3 5.8 3.5
1-5 7.5 4.7 6.2 3.8
5-10 7.6 5.1 6.4 4.6
20-60 8.2 5.5 7.1 5.0
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Thus, nepheline, being the basis of mineral bulk of
sands, is an unstable mineral which is exposed to inten-
sive weathering under the impact of acid solutions, in-
cluding humus acids. The extremely high mobility of
biogenous elements which are a part of nepheline sands
is connected with this [4]. The soil-forming rocks on
which zonal soils of the Murmansk region were formed
do not have similar properties in such pronounced form.
On the other hand, the absence of organic substance and
fixed nitrogen in nepheline sands, as well as the inacces-
sibility of large reserves of phosphorus to plants requires
solution of problems of optimization of the nutritive sta-
tus of sands when growing on them plants for the nature
protection and eventual economic purposes. Nepheline
sands are suitable for cultivation of plants not only with
a view of their fixation from wind erosion, but also for
creation of productive agricultural lands, which proved
true when carrying out field pilot works after growing
meadow grasses on a fixed tailing dump [5].
The studies of the structure and properties of soils for-
med on vegetation fixed nepheline sands ware carried
out on dormant tailing dump. Recultivation took place
from 1964 to 1984 by sowing perenial grasses. Over a
part of the tailing dump, recultivated in 1964-1968, a
vegetative cover of various structures was generated de-
pending on edaphic conditions, first of all, apparently,
on the character of substrate humidification. Along with
cereal grasses, some shrubs and subshrubs, motley gras-
ses, in particular, red clover, participate in the formation
of the ground cover, as well as mosses and lichens, typi-
cal for zonal phytocenoses. The wood canopy is repre-
sented by rare specimens of pine and spruce, planted in
1978 in the course of biological recultivation [6], and
heavy birch thicket of 20-30-years age, which penetrated
in the phytocenosis by natural seeding after the tailing
dump surface fixation using perennial grasses. Some rare
specimens of alder and juniper are found. Glades, devoid
of tree and shrubs and herbaceous layer have a moss-
lichen cover continuum.
The soils inherited their total chemical composition
from soil-forming rocks. The newly cultivated soils wh-
ich age is estimated at several decades, can not essen-
tially differ by their chemical composition from rocks on
which they are formed. The rich chemical composition
peculiar to rock is also characteristic for newly formed
soils. The average for all sections content of SiO2 in
soils on nepheline sands is 41% on ignited soil while in
the arable layer of cultivated podzols it exceeds to 65%.
The total content of Fe2O3 and Al2O3 reaches almost
30%, alkaline-earth bases—7.8%, alkaline metals
15.6%, of them the share of Na2О is 10.7%. As said
above, nepheline sands contain a lot of phosphorus as a
part of apatite, which remained in tailings after the ore
concentration. The reserves of phosphorus in soil, natu-
rally, have been preserved. In nepheline sands and in
soils generated on them, a high enough content (0.34%
on average) of fluorine had been registered. In zonal
podzols the content of this element usually made no
more than 0.01-0.2% [7]. Fluorine is a part of apatite
composition (a variety—fluorine-apatite) which is the
reason of enrichment of nepheline sands with it. Thus
the initial soil formation on nepheline sands proceeds in
conditions of very rich chemical composition of soil-
forming rocks.
3.1. Organic Matter of Newly Formed Soils
Formation humus substances, specific organic com-
pounds that are peculiar to soils, are the initial stage of
soil profile formation. As a result of transformation by
microorganisms of the vegetative litter on the surface of
nepheline sands an organic horizon was generated. In
connection with low power (0.5-1.5 sm) it was enriched
by mineral particles. Therefore the content of organic
carbon in it is relatively small—8-11 %.
The average data of the content of organic carbon
based on all investigated ecotopes are presented in Table
3. The greatest spatial variability of organic carbon value
in organic horizon is noted (the variation coefficient
makes 46%). In the top layers of mineral mass (in cespi-
tose horizon and at the depth of 5-10 sm) the variability
is insignificant (< 10%) and mean (10-20%) [8]. By this
reason the difference in the content of organic carbon in
these horizons is reliable. The difference of mean values
was 0.2%, the error of difference was 0.031% and the
Student criterion was 6.5 (t05 = 2.31). Hence, we can
assert with sufficient reliability that under the influence
of biota, which transforms plant residues, in the formed
cespitose horizon an accumulation of organic substance
took place in amounts exceeding its content in the initial
nepheline sands.
Table 3. The average content of organic carbon.
(Depth, sm) Organic C, % Coefficient of
variation, %
АO (mulch) 7.66 ± 1.445 46
АY (cespitose) 0.54 ± 0.025 9
5-10 0.34 ± 0.019 13
10-20 0.31 ± 0.029 23
20-30 0.28 ± 0.025 22
30-40 0.28 ± 0.027 23
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The content of water-soluble compounds of carbon,
which is a part of organic substance of soils as a whole,
is closely connected with the content of total carbon. To
a greater extent, it concerns the organic horizon of soils,
where rather a close correlation dependence of amount
of water-soluble and total carbon (r = 0.728 ± 0.278 t =
2.81; t05 = 2.18) is found. In mineral layers of soils this
connection is lesser significant (r = 0.384 ± 0.161; t =
2.38; t05 = 2.00). Probably, it is connected with the fact
that in the mineral mass of sands the organic substance is
represented both by compounds of biological nature and
by nonspecific compoundsthe remains of flotoreag-
In profile distribution of indices of water-soluble car-
bon the same regularities, as in distribution of the total
carbon are manifested (Table 4). It is natural, that the
most of all water-soluble organic substance is found in
organic horizon. In mineral horizons its amount de-
creases rapidly, but in the cespitose layer (up to 5 sm)
the content of water-soluble carbon is higher, than in the
underlaying layers.
Figure 1 presents the average data on all ecotopes, il-
lustrating the regularities of profile distribution of the
total and water-soluble carbon.
Their absolute content follows the general regularity:
rapidly decrease in direction from organic horizon to the
cespitose one and the further gradual decrease with de-
pth. Concerning the values of the degree of mobility of
organic substance (of the content of water-soluble car-
bon in percents of the total) the pattern is reverse. In
direction from organic horizon to the cespitose one this
value increases and continues to increase in the deeper
layers. Hence, in the process of decrease in the content
of organic substance with depth its relative mobility in-
creases. The registered regularities are well described by
exponential curves with rather a high approximation
reliability (R2 = 0.88-0.90).
By the fractional structure of humus acids soils on
nepheline sands differ from zonal soils: in the composi-
tion of humic and fulvic acids the fractions connected
with calcium is played an appreciable role. It is caused
by abundance of bases in nepheline sands, including the
ones in mobile condition.
3.2. Acid-base Properties of Newly Formed
Acidity is an important indicator of soils fertility, formed
as a result of interaction of plants with soil-forming rock,
which in our case is represented by nepheline sands.
Initial sands have alkaline reaction both in water (рН
8.0-8.3) and in salt (рН 7.3-7.8) suspensions.
In the prosess of primary soil formation on the surface
of nepheline sands covered with plants, a thin organic
horizon there was generated, in which processes of
transformation of plant litter take place, resulting in the
formation of organic acids which interact with mineral
mass of sands. The result of such interaction is accumu-
lation of newly formed soil of organic mineral com-
pounds being of acid nature in the top part of a mineral
profile. The results of рН determination in water suspen-
sion show, that an organic horizon has, as a rule, neutral
reaction, and in a salt suspension the reaction of this
horizon becomes subacidic (Table 5).
Table 4. The average content of water-soluble carbon.
(Depth, sm)
Water-soluble C,
mg/100 g
Coefficient of
variation, %
AO 99 ± 10.8 26.9
АY (cespitose) 18 ± 0.9 9.4
5-10 11 ± 2.2 49.8
10-20 9 ± 2.1 57.9
20-30 11 ± 1.9 43.5
30-40 11 ± 2.7 59.4
Table 5. Average рН values in nepheline sand and podzols.
Depth, sm
рН (Н2О) рН (КСl)
Soil on sands Podzol Soil on sands Podzol
0-1 7.1 4.3 5.8 3.5
1-5 7.5 4.7 6.2 3.8
5-10 7.6 5.1 6.4 4.6
20-60 8.2 5.5 7.1 5.0
Figure 1. Distribution of total carbon over soil profile (A); % of water-soluble carbon, mg/100 g (B); wa-
ter-soluble carbon, % of total carbon (C). Average data.
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In a profile of nepheline sands the medium response
changes with depth from neutral to alkaline in water
suspension and from subacidic to neutral in salt suspen-
sion. In zonal Al-Fe-humus podzols on sandy sediments
along the entire profile acid response both in salt and in
water suspensions is observed. The distribution of рН
values in sand and soils follows the general regularity
with the depth the medium response shifts towards neu-
tral or alkaline values. It is through this that the influ-
ence of eluvial processes affects the mineral profile.
Thus, the newly formed soils, generated on nepheline
sands, differ considerably by the content and distribution
of organic substance from zonal soilsAl-Fe-humus
podzols. The presence of organic horizon, which is less
mineralized in podzols, even in case of small thickness is
a common feature. Differences in the content in this ho-
rizon of general and water-soluble carbon are connected
with it: there is 4 times more total carbon in zonal soils
than in soils on nepheline sands, and 10 times more of
water-soluble carbon. By the content of the total carbon
the cespitose horizon of newly formed soils is similar to
podzolic horizon of podzols. These horizons, along with
litter, in the both soils are horizons with greatest concen-
tration of root systems of plants. No illuvial accumula-
tion of organic substance, which is characteristic for
podzols, is taking place in soils on nepheline sands, pos-
sibly, owing to their youth.
A long (30-40-years) influence of vegetation on the
nepheline sands has neither caused any appreciable
change in the total content of macroelements nor has it
led to their differentiation within a mineral profile.
Soil biota is a biocatalyst of processes of primary soil
formation. It participates directly in the mineralization
and humification of plant residues, affecting them by its
hydrolytic and oxidation-reduction exoenzymes, mineral
and organic acids and other metabolites. The investiga-
tion of biological characteristics was carried out in sands
of different duration of storage in tailing dumps apa-
tite-nepheline processing plants.
4.1. The Number and Biomass of Bacteria
The tailings of apatite-nepheline ore concentration leav-
ing the plant are not sterile and contain up to n × 107 of
bacteria in 1 ml of discharge [9]. Their amount decreases
up to n × 106 of cells in 1 g of sand at their ingress into
the tailing dump, which is most often connected with the
low humidity of the habitat and a decrease in concentra-
tion of nutritious elements (Table 6, Figure 2). The in-
tensity of microbiological processes increases in the
process of planting higher plants on sands.
Table 6. Number of bacteria of various trophic groups (× 103 cell/g) in nepheline sands.
Sample, plant group “Age” of sand, years Saprotrophic bacteri a Using mineral N Oligotrophic bacteria
Pure sand
10 6200
1386 319
0 2630
720 162
480 9980
1875 464
170 7320
2000 382
120 5910
1440 286
20 1660
594 109
10 2130
680 116
0.7 169
40 8
0 360
55 20
0 280
78 19
970 16100
4495 760
310 10860
3776 664
10 20500
5551 1279
680 9060
3163 452
100 21300
3334 991
300 19800
3126 1032
790 17700
5752 953
0 20200
5664 1299
300 17900
4966 1070
Moss 40
1860 15200
5491 812
300 14400
5439 1108
300 16600
6417 1214
Lichenous 40
2300 17600
6176 692
500 18700
5394 1067
720 15200
3913 741
Motley-grass 40
2480 25000
10382 1388
400 67700
17714 3828
900 82700
18920 5258
Shrub 40
1280 19200
5328 903
700 11100
3782 611
1100 12300
4734 612
Note. Above linelim (min-max), under line - M ± m; n = 25-28.
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Freshly filled
Under cereals
Under cereals
Under cereals
10 years
20 years
30 years
m ln cell/g
Saprotrophic bacteria
Using mineral N
Oligotrophic bacteria
Figure 2. The number of bacteria in non-recultivated nepheline sands of different storage duration and in sand under cereals.
The highest number of all the trophic bacterial groups
was reached under grass parcels.
So, in a microbocenos developed in the thin organic
horizon, generated at a nepheline tailing dump revege-
tated 40 years ago, the leading position in which was
occupied by oligotrophic bacteria and bacteria trans-
forming complex organic nonnitrogenous substances, in
particular, representatives of amylolytic community. The
number of all trophic groups of bacteria was the greatest
under of grass parcel.
More complete data about the number of microorgan-
isms in soils can be obtained using microscopic counts
methods, in particular, the method of fluorescent micro-
scopy. Based on the data of the total content of bacteria
in the substrate, it is possible to calculate their biomass.
The total number of bacteria in pure sand using the
method of fluorescent microscopy, which considers both
viable and unviable cells, varied within 0.34-0.60 billion
cell/g, and in the recultivated one under various plant
gropesfrom 5.8 to 7.2 billion cell/g (Table 7). The
“age” of pure, unrecultivated sand practically did not
exert any influence on the total number of bacteria and
their biomass. In sands under grass plants the bacterial
biomass increased on the average 4 times compared to
the sand which was not covered with plants. At that, no
reliable changes in the amount of bacteria biomass occur
as the age of the sand increases. The greatest number
and biomass of bacteria was under motley grasses, do-
minating in which was clover, capable to symbiotic fixa-
tion of nitrogen.
Thus, in the recultivated sands the bacterial biomass
has increased on the average 14 times in comparison
with the sands not covered with vegetation, and changed
under various plants groups within 0.11-0.29 mg/g.
4.2. Peculiarities of the Prokaryotic
Complex of Newly Formed Soils
The prokaryotic complex of newly formed soils on nep-
heline sands essentially differs from the prokaryotic
complex of zonal soils on moraine. In the prokaryotic
complex of the studied substrate gram-positive bacteria
dominate, whereas in zonal soils gram-negative bacteria
prevail which testifies to differences in the species
composition of the bacterial community. In non-recul-
tivated sands the share of gram-negative bacteria
changed from 4 to 10% of the total number of organo-
trophic bacteria. In the recultivated sands their share
Table 7. The total number of bacteria (× 109 cells/g) and their
biomass (× 10-5 g/g) in nepheline sands.
plant group
“Age” of
sand, years Number Biomass
Pure sand
0 0.60 ± 0.04 2.4 ± 0.2
10 0.53 ± 0.06 2.1 ± 0.3
20 0.34 ± 0.11 1.4 ±0. 4
30 0.59 ± 0.10 2.4 ± 0.4
10 1.47 ± 0.37 5.9 ± 0.9
20 2.23 ± 1.04 8.9 ± 0.7
30 2.02 ± 0.19 8.1 ± 0.6
Moss 40 7.22 ± 0.37 28.9 ± 1.5
Lichenous 40 5.79 ± 0.64 23.2 ± 2.5
Motley-grass 40 6.20 ± 0.27 24.8 ± 1.1
Shrub 40 2.62 ± 1.64 10.5 ± 6.6
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increased to 30-50% (Table 8).
A distinctive feature of a microbic component of the
newly formed soils, generated on nepheline sands, from
acid soils of the region on moraine sediments, was the
high number of actinomycetes of genus Streptomyces,
class Actinobacteria. In forest podzols their amount does
not exceed 3.5% of the total number of saprotrophic
bacterial block, while in the recultivated tailing dump
streptomycetes reach up 25% of the total number of cul-
tivated bacteria. The representatives of genus Noca rdia
of the same class s were found much less often.
Actinomycetes are neutrophils, while water suspen-
sions of nepheline sands possess neutral or alkaline reac-
tion, at the same time for Al-Fe-humus podzols domi-
nating in the Kola Peninsula, acid reaction of the me-
dium is characteristic. Actinomycetes produce extracel-
lular hydrolases, capable of decomposing complex or-
ganic compounds: cellulose, xylogen, chitin, humus sub-
As a whole the prokaryotic complex of newly formed
soils on nepheline-bearing industrial wastes is presented
in Table 9.
Its composition includes mainly actinobacteria of gen-
era Arthrobacter, Rhodococcus, Micrococcus and Strep-
tomyces, adapted for life in oligotrophic media as a res-
ult of economical consumption of both exogenous and
endogenous substrates. The composition of prokaryotic
complex of pure non-recultivated sand and the sand prior
to 30-years old, which has overgrown with grasses and
mosses, includes mainly actinobacteria of genera Arthr-
obacter and Micrococcus, often forming associative col-
onies on nutrient media (therefore, their share in the total
complex of saprotrophic bacteria could exceed 100%).
Table 8. The share of gram-negative bacteria in nepheline sa-
nds (% of the total number of saprotrophic bacteria).
Sample, plant
“Age” of
sand, years
Share of Gr -
Pure sand
0 4
10 5
20 10
30 4
10 21
20 12
30 11
Moss 40 41
Lichen 40 31
Motley-grass 40 52
Shrub 40 39
Table 9. Prokariotic complex of nepheline sands of different
period exposition (% from organotrophic bacterial block).
plant group
Total number,
×106 cells/g
Pure sand 1.0 59.6 0.2 12.0 46.8 3.7 0.7
Grass (1030 years) 4.5 63.8 0.9 0 32.8 8.4 1.1
Moss (1030 years) 2.2 69.9 0 0 31.7 4.8 0.9
Moss (40 years) 5.5 20.1 0.8 0 0 25.8 7.4
Lichen (40 years) 6.2 18.0 1.0 0 0 25.8 2.0
Motley-grass (40 years) 10.4 10.0 0.8 0 0 13.5 3.8
Shrubs (40 years) 5.3 10.8 2.4 0 3.4 17.6 2.3
In nepheline sands 5 strains of dominating species of
bacteria have been secured with more than 60% of spa-
tial frequency of occurrence. Their identification has
been carried out using the method of comparative analy-
sis of nucleotide sequences of genes, coding 16S rRNA,
and their phylogenetic position (Bioengineeringcentre,
Moscow) has been determined. Four strains of the iden-
tified bacteria have been referred to Actinobacteria class.
These are strains of species: Arthrobacter boritoleran, A.
ramosus, Rhodococcus fascian, Micrococcus luteus.
Actinobacteria are typical dwellers of soils, water, air
and are characterized by non-specificity to nutrient sour-
ces and can develop in media with the small content of
nutrients, thanks to economical consumption of exogen-
ous substrates, i.e., they belong to the trophic group of
oligotrophic bacteria. Some of them, in particular, actin-
omycetes are capable of producing extracellular hydrol-
ases and of decomposing complex polymeric compounds.
Besides, actinobacteria can develop at very low humidity
of substrate and have high adaptive capacities to adverse
conditions of the environment in particular they form
carotinoids, protecting cells from UV rays.
During long-time exposition in the process of forma-
tion of newly formed soils on nepheline-bearing indus-
trial wastes the structure of prokaryotic complex of mi-
crobial communities was changes. The share of gram-ne-
gative bacteria increases in them from 4-10% to 30-50%,
while the share of actinobacteria, belonging to gram-
positive bacteria, including streptomycetes decreases.
The domination of gram-negative bacteria in prokaryotic
complex and exclusively small content of actinomycetes
is characteristic of acid soils of the region on moraine
sediments [10]. Based on this we can assume, that evo-
lution of microbic community of nepheline sands in
process of their recultivation and revegetation follows
V. N. Pereverzev et al. / Natural Science 2 (2010) 600-611
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
the way of rapprochement with microbial communities
of zonal soils.
4.3. The Number and Biomass of Fungi
The number of microscopic fungithe basic decompos-
ers of organic substance in the recently filled sands from
apatite-nepheline manufacture was very small and did
not exceed tens of CFU per 1 gram (Figure 3). In the
process of increase of the storage period of sands and
their revegetation the number of fungi increased to hun-
dreds of CFU per gram of substrate.
More complete data about the abundance of fungi in
soils can be obtained using microscopic counts methods,
in particular, the method of fluorescent microscopy. The
length of fungal mycelium in nepheline sands, which
had been object to recultivation 40 years ago, under lic-
hen and motley grass group reached 1000 m/g, and its
biomass made 1.3 mg in 1 g of substrate (Table 10).
These values are quite comparable to those in soils of
taiga forests of the Kola Peninsula [10]. At that, the fu-
ngi biomass in the 40-year sands exceeded the bacterial
Duration of storage, years
Figure 3. Number of microscopical fungi
in nepheline sands in the time gradient.
Table 10. The length of fungal mycelium (m/g) and the bio-
mass of fungi and bacteria (× 10-5 g/g) in nepheline sands.
plant group
“Age” of
sand, years
of fungal
Total biomass
of fungi and
Pure sand
0 12 ± 5 1.3 ± 0.6 3.7 ± 0.4
10 32 ± 2 3.5 ± 0.2 5.6 ± 0.2
20 43 ± 13 4.7 ± 1.5 6.1 ± 0.9
30 26 ± 5 2.9 ± 0.5 5.3 ± 0.4
10 59 ± 8 6.4 ± 0.9 12.3 ± 0.7
20 62 ± 8 6.9 ± 0.8 15.8 ± 0.7
30 112 ± 35 12.4 ± 3.9 20.5 ± 2.2
Moss 40 710 ± 145 78.1 ± 16.0 107.0 ± 8.7
Lichen 40 1156 ± 192
127.2 ± 21.1
150.4 ± 11.8
Motley-grass 40 1064 ± 74 117.0 ± 8.1 141.8 ± 4.6
Shrub 40 434 ± 159 47.8 ± 1.7 58.3 ± 4.1
one 3-5 times which is characteristic of organic horizons
of the zone of spruce forests of the Kola North. In the
recently filled sands the indices of mycelium length and
its biomass were much lower and did not exceed 12 m
and 0.013 mg/g respectively.
It should be noted, that in sands without vegetation the
contribution of bacteria and fungi to the total microbic
biomass is equivalent, and in the sands subjected to
phytomelioration, the fungi biomass exceeds 10 times
that of bacteria.
4.4. Fungi Species Diversity
At present we have identified in the sands of the tailing
dump, reclaimed over 40 years ago, —26 species related
to 10 genera, 7 orders, 4 classes and 2 divisions; in rece-
ntly filled sandsonly 12 species related to 8 genera, 5
orders, 4 classes and 2 divisions. Most widely represent-
ted in the complex of micromycetes of the reclaimed
nepheline tailing dump have been fungi of Penicillium
genus. They made over 50% of all species diversity of
the identified fungi. In recently filled sands the given
genus was represented by 4 species, in the recultivation
one – by 15 species.
In nepheline sands recultvated over 40 years ago, the
group of often found fungi included the species: Morti-
erella longicollis, Phoma eupyrena, Penicillium daleae.
Fungi Acremonium rutilum, Fusarium solani, Mucor
hiemalis, M. plumbeus, Penicillium variabile have been
identified only in recently filled nepheline sands. These
species of fungi have been also found in apatite-nep-
heline underground mining workings [11] and in produ-
cts of technological conversion at apatite-nepheline con-
centrating mills [9], whence they could go to the tailing
No dominating species were found in recently filled
sands, which are also confirmed by the decrease of the
value of Simpson domination index and, respectively,
the increase of the value of Pielou evenness index (Ta-
ble 11).
In recultivated sands Simpson index was equal to 0.26,
Pielou—0.53; in recently filled sands to 0.15 and 0.96
Table 11. Some indices of species structure of nepheline sand
fungi community.
“Age” of
Shannon total
domin ation
0 1.99 0.15 0.96
10 1.31 0.4 0.46
20 1.63 0.37 0.53
30 1.57 0.29 0.55
40 1.7 0.26 0.53
V. N. Pereverzev et al. / Natural Science 2 (2010) 600-611
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
respectively. Penicillium thomii belonged to the fre-
quently found species in recently filled sands, other spe-
cies by the values of spatial and temporal frequency of
species occurrence, to rare and casual ones have been
referred. The registered low species diversity of micro-
mycetes in recently filled sands and the absence of spe-
cies—dominants in the structure of their complexes are
characteristic for young ecosystems in unstable condi-
tion and they are fewer, where physical and chemical
factors of the medium are extreme.
The degree of similarity of the species composition of
complexes of microscopic fungi of recently filled and
reclaimed nepheline sands, expressed by Sørensen index,
has made only 25%. Such low degree of similarity is
explained by the extremely small value of the number
and poor fungi species diversity in the concentration
wastes leaving the mill. For recultivated nepheline sands
the value of Sørensen index is above 40%.
The similarity of species composition of complexes of
micromycetes of recultivated nepheline sands and typi-
cal podzolic soils of the Kola Peninsula increases—the
Sørensen index reached 45%.
Thus, the recultivation of nepheline sands, carried out
40 years ago, provided preconditions for formation of
complexes of bacteria and micromycetes, typical for
regional podzolic soils. In the formation of pioneer com-
plexes of micromycetes of nepheline sands the process
of restoration of vegetative cover determining their
number and diversity is the most essential, while differ-
ences in mineralogical and chemical composition of
sands, which are parent rock are not so significant.
4.5. Zoocenoses
Along with phyto- and microbocenoses, zoocenoses are
an obligate component of a soil ecosystem. In soils, dis-
turbed as a result of agrotechnical activity or industrial
impact, microarthropodsmites and collembolans ap-
pear to be the main and often the only groups of fauna.
Small sizes, high number, diversity of species and life
forms, wide ranges of food resources determine the uni-
versal spread of microarthropods. As a rule, they are the
first of animals which colonize technogenic substrates
after microorganisms.
4.5.1. Diversity of Invertebrate Animals
Zoological analysis of nepheline sands has shown that
invertebrates-colonizers of this man-induced substrate
are collembolans (Insecta, Collembola). Colonization of
sands by these microbophagous insects is explained by
the presence of living bacterial cells in the mineral conc-
entration waste of apatite-nepheline ore arriving to sto-
rage sites from mills. Accumulation of humus substances
and succession of bacteria and fungi components of
sands microbiota have determined the change of micro-
arthropod´s dominating groups. In newly formed soils at
the recultivated storage site the saprotrophic oribatid
mites (Acari, Oribatei) as indicator of humification
processes of organic substance were absolute dominants
of fauna.
The storage site, recultivated over 40 years ago, was
characterized by the greatest taxonomic and trophic div-
ersity of invertebrates. The newly formed organic hori-
zon was occupied by litter-dwelling animals with many-
years generations and ecological strategy of K-type: de-
tritophagous earthworms of the species Lum bricus ru-
bellus (Lumbricidae), carnivorous millipedes of the spe-
cies Monotarsobius curtipes (Lithobiidae) and hydro-
philic larvae of leather-winged beetles (Cantharidae). In
connection with plants diversity the complex of phyto-
phagous insects has extended (Table 12).
Table 12. Diversity of trophic groups of invertebrates in neph-
eline sands with different period of exposition.
Period of exposition, years
10 20 30 40
Collembola Collembola Collembola Collembola
Oribatei Oribatei Oribatei Oribatei
Nematoda Nematoda
Tartigrada Tar tigrada
Diptera Diptera Diptera Diptera
Byrridae Byrrida e
Enchytraeidae Enchytraeidae
Cicadellidae Cicadellidae
Elateridae Elateridae Elateridae
Thysanoptera Thysanoptera
Aphididae Aphididae
Hemi ptera
Mesostigmata Mesostigmata Mesostigmata Mesostigmata
Aranea Aranea Aranea Aranea
Staphylinidae Staphylinidae Staphylinidae Staphylinidae
Carabidae Carabidae Carabidae
Cantharidae Cantharidae
Formicidae Formicidae
V. N. Pereverzev et al. / Natural Science 2 (2010) 600-611
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
Representatives of the majority of taxa, typical for
taiga soils (nematodes, pot worms, spiders, road beetles,
carabid beetles, leather-winged beetles and dipterans
larvae) preferred plant associations of the forest type
mosses, lichens, shrubs and lived under them throughout
the period of vegetation. Phytophagous insects (aphid,
lemipterans, thunder flies, caterpillars of lepidopterans)
were various under lichens. For certain plant associa-
tions the obligate groups of invertebrates there have been
identified, which were found under them during all ve-
getative season. Under mosses, lichens, shrubs and clov-
er these were nematodes and pot worms, under red
whortleberries and crowberries—larvae of dipterans and
road beetles.
4.5.2. Number of Invertebrate Animals
In the sands of operating tailing dump the total number
of invertebrates varied from 0.5 to 17 thous. spm/m2
(Figure 4). The mean by 6 months number of fauna
without taking into account of microarthropods has not
exceeded 30 spm/m2 in pure sand of different period of
exposition and 200-400 spm/m2 under grasses and mos-
ses. At the dormant tailing dump in newly formed soils
the number of microarthropods has increased up to 47
thous. spm/m2 and other groups of fauna up to 740
In the “young” sands, both self-growing with mosses
and fixed by sowing grasses 10-30 years ago, the pioneer
complexes of invertebrates are connected with the moss
cover, rhizosphere and the overground biomass of
grasses. In sands under mosses the tundra variant of in-
vertebrates community was formed and under mot-
ley-grass—the meadow one. The greatest number and
diversity of species and life forms of invertebrates is
confined to grasses, which testifies to an important me-
dium-forming activity of these plants.
The character of the change of number of microbo-
phagouscollembolans and oribatid mites in sands of
Quantity of taxa
10203040 years
1 2 31 2 312 312 34 5 6 7
10203040 years
x103 spm/m2
123 123 123 1234567
10203040 years
Figure 4. Quantity of taxa, number and biomass of inverte-
brates without microarthropods in the nepheline sands (mean
on 6 season of sampling). 1—pure sand, 2—grasses, 3
mosses, 4—lichens, 5crowberry, 6—red whortleberries, 7
different age under all plant associations correspondents
with dynamic of the number of microorganisms bacte-
ria and mycelial fungi (Fig ures 5, 6).
It follows from figures, that the succession of pioneer
groups of microarthropo d scollembolans and mites in
the studied technogenic substrate is determined by the
succession of microorganisms. A similar conclusion has
been made at the analysis of zoo-microbial interactions
during experimental field on biotransformation of plant
residues in soils polluted by aluminium and copper-
nickel smelters emissions in the Murmansk region [7,
10 years20 years30 years
Ammonifier bacteriaBacteria utilizing mineral nitrogen
Oligonitrophilic bacteriaOribatei
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
40 years
Figure 5. The number of bacteria (106 cells/g) and microarthropods (103 spm/m2) in the sand with different pe-
riod of exposition under the main types of vegetation. Legend 1-7 as well as on Figure 4.
V. N. Pereverzev et al. / Natural Science 2 (2010) 600-611
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
10 years20 years30 years
Microfungy Oribatei Collembola
40 years
Figure 6. The number of microfungi (103 CFU/g) and microarthropods (103 spm/m2) in the sands with different
period of exposition. Legend 1-7 as well as on Figure 4.
Phytomelioration of nepheline sands has positively
affected the growth of the number of fauna compared
with the sands without vegetation or self-growing with
mosses. As a whole, biotic factors have determinant in-
fluence on the colonization of this technogenic substrate
by various groups of invertebrate animals in comparison
with abiotic factors. The bacterial biomass in the newly
formed soils on nepheline sands, recultivated over 40
years ago, has increased compared to the pure sand 14
times on the average.
The invertebrate’s complex of sands, recultivated over
40 years ago a poor variant of mesofauna of taiga pod-
zols of the Kola North with lower taxonomic and trophic
diversity and zoomass was represent. Half a century af-
ter the carrying out of recultivation of the dormant tail-
ing dump, in newly formed soils there was no formation
of zoocenoses, characteristic for zonal podzols of the
Kola North.
A primary soil-forming process is taking place on ore
concentration wastes of apatite-nepheline industry, wh-
ose biological recultivation was carried out 40 years ago.
The manifestation of the soil-forming process in nephe-
line sands can be characterized by the following indicat-
ions: 1) formation of a thin litter with the content of org-
anic carbon at the level of 8-12%; 2) accumulation of
humus substances in the mineral sub-litter horizon to the
depth of 5 sm as a result of humification of root litter; 3)
a distinct change of the response of the medium of the
top part (to the depth of 20 sm) of mineral thickness of
Microorganisms are biocatalysts of processes of prim-
ary soil formation and one of the primary factors, which
determine the specificity of this process. In the process
of formation of newly formed soils on nepheline-bearing
industrial wastes, there occurs a change in the structure
of prokaryotic complex of microbial communities, wh-
ich originally essentially differed from the prokaryotic
complex of zonal soils on moraine sediments. The share
of gram-negative bacteria increases in them, while the
share of actinobacteria decreases, including streptomy-
cetes. In the formation of pioneer complexes of micro-
mycetes the process of restoration of the vegetation cov-
er, determining their number and diversity, is the most
essential, while distinctions in mineralogical and chemi-
cal composition of sands, which are parent rock, are not
so significant. The recultivation of nepheline sands, car-
ried out 40 years ago, provided prerequisites for the
formation of complexes of bacteria and micromycetes,
typical for regional podzolic soils.
Common features of invertebrate’s complexes in
nepheline sands with different period of exposition were
the low species diversity and the high level of the num-
ber of invertebrates; their colonization by small-size and
short-living representatives of micro- and mesofauna;
dependence of the succession of pioneer groups of mi-
croarthropods on the succession of bacteria and fungi.
The generated ecosystem as a result of biological re-
cultivation and development of the vegetation cover on
the surface of nepheline sands represents a natural model
of a man-induced formation that underwent a long evo-
lution from barren sands, scarcely occupied only by mi-
croorganisms, to complex biogeocenoses, which include
the vegetation cover of various structures and the newly
formed soil. According to modern classification, soils,
generated on reclaimed tailings of apatite industry, can
be referred to the grey- humus (cespitose) type with
AY-C profile of department of organo-accumulative
soils of the post-lithogenic soils’s stem [15].
We are grateful to N. Mozgova, N. Voronina, L. Baskova, N. Korobey-
nikova and E. Lebedeva for help in analytic work. This work was sup-
V. N. Pereverzev et al. / Natural Science 2 (2010) 600-611
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
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