Satta, Alberto and Verdinelli, Marcello and Ruiu, Luca and Buffa, Franco and Salis, Severyn and Sassu, Antonio and Floris, Ignazio (2012) Combination of beehive matrices analysis and ant biodiversity to study heavy metal pollution impact in a post-mining area (Sardinia, Italy). Environmental Science and Pollution Research, Vol. 19 (9), p. 3977-3988. eISSN 1614-7499. Article.
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Mining activities represent a major source of environment contamination. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of bees and ants as bioindicators to detect the heavy metal impact in post-mining areas. A biomonitoring programme involving a combination of honeybee hive matrices analysis and ant biodiversity survey was conducted over a 3-year period. The experimental design involved three monitoring stations where repeated sampling activities focused on chemical detection of cadmium (Cd), chrome (Cr) and lead (Pb) from different matrices, both from hosted beehives (foraging bees, honey and pollen) and from the surrounding environment (stream water and soil). At the same time, ant biodiversity (number and abundance of species) was determined through a monitoring programme based on the use of pitfall traps placed in different habitats inside each mining site. The heavy metal content detected in stream water from the control station was always below the analytical limit of quantification. In the case of soil, the content of Cd and Pb from the control was lower than that of mining sites. The mean heavy metal concentrations in beehive matrices from mining sites were mainly higher than the control, and as a result of regression and discriminant analysis, forager bee sampling was an efficient environmental pollution bioindicator. Ant collection and identification highlighted a wide species variety with differences among habitats mostly associated with vegetation features. A lower variability was observed in the polluted landfill characterised by lack of vegetation. Combined biomonitoring with forager bees and ants represents a reliable tool for heavy metal environmental impact studies.
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