Fonctionnement des sols contaminés

Abstract : Brownfield soils are multi-polluted areas, which cover an increasing surface and thus present serious socio-economical challenges. A better understanding of the ecological functioning of these sites is mandatory for their restoration. In addition to the high pollution found at these sites, brownfields are characterized by a specific soil structure and occasionally also by particular nutrient contents. Despite these constraints, several brownfield are well colonized by plants, fauna and microorganisms. The capacity of these new communities to uphold main ecosystem function remains to be evaluated based on the measurement of one or several ecosystem functions. Leaf litter decomposition is critically important in driving carbon and nutrient biogeochemical cycles. This function depends on decomposition actors (fauna and microorganisms) but also on leaf litter quality. By that, leaf litter decomposition integrates effects of soil pollution on plant, animal and microorganism communities. Thus, leaf litter decomposition is a relevant indicator to evaluate pollution effects on the functioning of soil ecosystems. The main objective of this thesis was to study brownfields soil function by focusing on the impairment of soil pollution on the leaf litter decomposition. The main hypothesis was that soil pollution could negatively affect leaf litter decomposition by two different ways. (1) By direct effects, resulting from adverse effects of soil pollution on decomposition actors, and (2) by indirect effects, assuming that soil pollution will induce modifications of the plant’s physiology, resulting in changes in leaf litter quality and subsequent effects on the decomposition. Our results revealed the absence of direct negative effects for eight highly polluted sites, despite a disturbance of decomposer actors, specifically the increase in abundance of detritivores and a modified microbial colonization of the leaf litter at the polluted sites. These results are in favor of a sufficient functional redundancy of decomposer actors in the local communities, which allowed the maintenance of the decomposition process. We also showed a positive indirect effect of soil pollution on the decomposition. This effect resulted from the improvement of litter quality produced at the polluted sites. This induced, at least for some sites, an increase of the decomposition rate, possibly due to a higher activity of decomposer actors. Furthermore, we also observed pollutants accumulation in these litter, especially Cd and Zn. These pollutants could potentially impair decomposition actors. Whatever, presence of these pollutants in litter did not impair litter consumption by some detritivores. Numerous perspectives can be developed from this study. Among them it seems specifically important to evaluate: 1) which are the (physiological) mechanisms behind the increase in leaf litter quality at polluted sites? 2) How can different communities assure the same decomposition rates at polluted sites? and 3) Are there negative effects observed on the performance and physiology of detritivores when consuming leaf litter from polluted sites ?
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Pierre Lucisine. Fonctionnement des sols contaminés. Sciences de la Terre. Université de Lorraine, 2015. Français. ⟨NNT : 2015LORR0195⟩. ⟨tel-01754626⟩

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