Macroalgae in estuarine and coastal waters, in contrast to vascular salt marsh plants, have previously been utilised as biomonitors of sediment-held metals. The colonising halophyte Salicornia spp., however, occurs in both mudflats alongside macroalgae, as well as in association with salt marsh vascular plants. The present research aims to determine the relationships between fluctuations in sediment-held metals and those in Salicornia spp. over the course of a growing season. Samples of the species and corresponding underlying sediment were collected from the metal mine-polluted Restronguet Creek of the Fal Estuary, Cornwall on a monthly basis between March and November, 2000. Oven-dried sediment and vegetation samples were analysed for total Fe, Cu, Zn and Mn. Significant correlations with both the roots and aerial portion of the plant were found with sediment Cu and Zn concentrations. Significant relationships with either Mn or Fe were not observed. Thus, Salicornia spp. would appear to be a suitable tool for biomonitoring Zn and, particularly, Cu. Hyperaccumulation of Zn in the aerial portion during initial growth also indicates that Salicornia spp. may be useful for alleviating metal contamination through phytoextraction, whilst Cu in the roots is proposed as having potential for phytostabilization.
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- Mine pollution
- Plant sediment relationships