ERA

ACRRE Research Notes

Outreach and application of knowledge is a key component of ACRRE’s mandate. ACRRE is committed to disseminating the key findings of its researchers in formats that are highly relevant and widely accessible to the industry and government partners who need them. These research notes summarize the management implications of key research papers published by ACRRE research teams.
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  1. Rat root plants may not be suitable for reclaiming oil sands tailing ponds [Download]

    Title: Rat root plants may not be suitable for reclaiming oil sands tailing ponds
    Creator: Zwiazek, J.
    Description: Reclamation projects underway in northern Alberta aim to convert tailings ponds—a byproduct of oil sands production that typically have high pH and salinity—into constructed wetlands. Though research suggests that these wetlands can support healthy aquatic plant communities, we know little about the combined effects of high pH and salinity on plant growth. Rat root (Acorus americanus Raf.) is a native species that has been effectively used in reclamation projects outside of the oil sands region, as it has high ecological value and significant cultural value to First Nations groups. This study tested the ability of rat root to grow in a high pH/high salinity environment, similar to that of a constructed wetland.
    Subjects: Rat root, Plants for land reclamation, Oil sands, Constructed wetlands, Reclamation of land--Alberta, Tailing ponds, Acorus americanus Raf.
    Date Created: 2015/03/04
  2. Boreal trees can grow on saline sites – implications for reclamation success on saline soils [Download]

    Title: Boreal trees can grow on saline sites – implications for reclamation success on saline soils
    Creator: Purdy, B.
    Description: Soils from oil sands mining can be affected by salts leached from tailings or overburden materials – resulting in saline soil conditions. As a result, re-establishment of forests on saline sites is an important goal on reclaimed oil sands mines. Forest vegetation is typically thought to be intolerant of salinity, but there are rare examples of natural boreal forests growing on saline sites. By looking at these naturally saline sites we can help inform reclamation of sites with challenging saline soil conditions.
    Subjects: Salinity gradient, Reclamation, Salt tolerance, Forest growth, Boreal forest
    Date Created: 2015/03/04
  3. Prioritization can improve cost effectiveness of seismic line restoration [Download]

    Title: Prioritization can improve cost effectiveness of seismic line restoration
    Creator: Van Rensen, C.
    Description: Restoration of legacy seismic lines has become a topic of frequent conversation among land managers. The release of the federal recovery strategy for woodland caribou in 2012 has contributed to this momentum with companies now investing considerable resources in restoring legacy seismic lines. The costs for these restoration activities can be extremely high and tools are needed to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of treatments. Our project tested whether LiDAR could be used to inventory current and future levels of regeneration along legacy seismic lines.
    Subjects: Seismic lines restoration, LiDAR
    Date Created: September 2015
  4. Reconstructed soils in Alberta oil sands limit fine root growth of trees [Download]

    Title: Reconstructed soils in Alberta oil sands limit fine root growth of trees
    Creator: Chang, S.
    Description: Oil sands mining removes large areas of vegetation and soil across the landscape, thus post-mining reclamation requires the development of reconstructed soils to support tree growth. These reconstructed soils are generally made up of a top layer of peat mineral soil mix, and an underlying layer of either tailings sand or fine-textured overburden materials. Differences in the structure of these materials create a change in texture across the boundary where the two materials meet. This ‘textural interface’ can cause changes in water and nutrient fluxes through the reconstructed soil profile. This study examines the fine root biomass of two tree species (lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) on tailings sand; white spruce (Picea glauca) on overburden) across this interface, as an indicator of ecosystem development on the reclaimed landscape.
    Subjects: Fine root, Textural discontinuity, Reclamation of land--Alberta, Tailings sand, Overburden
    Date Created: 2015/03/04
  5. Plow-in pipeline construction improves recovery of rough fescue grassland [Download]

    Title: Plow-in pipeline construction improves recovery of rough fescue grassland
    Creator: Naeth, A.M.
    Description: Pipeline construction can disturb land through vegetation removal, soil mixing and compaction, and destruction of biological crusts (microorganisms, lichen, moss). Most efforts to restore native rough fescue after pipeline construction through soil replacement and/or rough fescue seeding have been unsuccessful. To overcome this, recent techniques have focused on reducing total grassland disturbance during pipeline construction. This research examines the natural recovery of rough fescue grassland following minimum disturbance pipeline construction techniques.
    Subjects: Natural recovery, Rough fescue, Minimum disturbance, Grasslands, Pipeline construction, Pipelines--Alberta, Plow-in pipeline, Festuca hallii
    Date Created: 2015/04/03
  6. Benefits of fertilization for white spruce and lodgepole pine trees depend on the reclamation substrate – overburden vs tailings sand [Download]

    Title: Benefits of fertilization for white spruce and lodgepole pine trees depend on the reclamation substrate – overburden vs tailings sand
    Creator: Chang, S.
    Description: During reclamation of oil sands mines, overburden or tailings sand substrates are often capped with a peat mineral mix. These soils can exhibit a number of challenging properties, including low availability of water and nutrients such as nitrogen. Some trees planted on oil sands mines have started to show reduced growth and yellowed needles – signs of nitrogen deficiency. This study sought to determine the growth responses of white spruce and lodgepole pine to fertilization in reconstructed boreal forest soils.
    Subjects: Reclamation of land Alberta, Oil sands mines reclamation
    Date Created: 2015/12
  7. Soil salvage depth is key to aspen root fragment survival and sucker regeneration in forest reclamation [Download]

    Title: Soil salvage depth is key to aspen root fragment survival and sucker regeneration in forest reclamation
    Creator: Landhäusser, S.
    Description: When clearing mine sites for development, forest floor material is salvaged and often directly placed onto nearby reclamation sites. Soils salvaged from aspen forests have significant quantities of root fragments contained in these materials. Aspen roots are known to produce aspen suckers following disturbance and this potential may be used to quickly establish aspen on reclamation sites. We conducted an operational scale trial to determine what factors impact the ability of root fragments to regenerate and produce viable aspen suckers. We considered the influence of soil salvage depth and root fragment characteristics, such as size and carbon (food) reserves.
    Subjects: Forest reclamation
    Date Created: December 2015
  8. Deeper soil salvaging depths produce greater cover of native plants than shallow salvage depths on a reclaimed coal mine site [Download]

    Title: Deeper soil salvaging depths produce greater cover of native plants than shallow salvage depths on a reclaimed coal mine site
    Creator: Macdonald, E.
    Description: The forest understory serves as a key source of plant diversity and plays an important role in various forest processes. However, re-establishment of the forest understory community has proven challenging when using conventional reclamation techniques because of limited availability of native seed propagules. To overcome some of these challenges, direct placement of forest floor material – where salvaged soils are transferred directly to a reclamation site – has been encouraged. This technique preserves native propagules in soils and can improve forest recovery. However, an important question remains: what soil salvage depth provides the greatest ecological benefit?
    Subjects: Reclamation of land Alberta, Coal mine reclamation
    Date Created: 2015/12
  9. Temporary drilling pads from oil sands exploration require microtopography for restoration [Download]

    Title: Temporary drilling pads from oil sands exploration require microtopography for restoration
    Creator: Lieffers, V.
    Description: In situ oil sands exploration (OSE) requires the creation of temporary drilling pads, which are often located in peatlands. These pads are created by removing trees and blading the fen surface, leaving windrows of peat along the pad edges; the pad is then frozen-in to create a level surface. However, once abandoned, these pads often fail to regenerate and can become flooded during the growing season. This research examined differences in vegetation and microtopography between OSE pads and undisturbed peatland, and provides possible solutions to help improve regeneration on these challenging sites.
    Subjects: Reclamation of land--Alberta, Peatland restoration, Oil sands exploration pads
    Date Created: 2015/03/04
  10. Coarse woody debris increases microbial functional diversity in reclaimed soils [Download]

    Title: Coarse woody debris increases microbial functional diversity in reclaimed soils
    Creator: Naeth, M.A.
    Description: Microbial communities are important indicators of soil quality and ecosystem productivity in both natural and reclaimed ecosystems. The presence of diverse microbial communities promotes decomposition of organic materials and, in turn, the cycling of nutrients. Coarse woody debris is a reclamation tool that has been used to increase native plant establishment and improve soil development on reclamation sites. It’s possible that coarse woody debris may also influence soil microbial communities. Quantifying the impacts of coarse woody debris on soil microbial communities is therefore key to evaluating the utility of coarse woody debris for assisting reclaimed sites.
    Subjects: Land reclamation, Oil sands
    Date Created: 2015/12