The effect of heavy metals on soil free-living nematodes, microbial biomass (Cmic) and basal respiration (BR) was studied along a 15 km downwind deposition gradient, originating at the Almalyk Industrial Complex. Soil samples from 0-10 and 10-20 cm layers were collected at 5 km intervals. A significant decrease in heavy metal deposition was found going from the source in the downwind direction and with depth. The soil microbial biomass, basal respiration and derived microbial indices for soil samples from the Almalyk industrial area were analysed. The lowest soil microbial biomass and total number of free-living nematodes were found in soil samples near the industrial complex, with a high heavy metal and weak total organic carbon (Corg) content. The highest Cmic was found in the soil samples collected 15 km from the pollution source. BR displayed similar results. The derived indices, metabolic quotient (qCO2) and microbial ratio (C mic/Corg), revealed significant differences with distance, confirming environmental stress in the first and second locations. The present study elucidates the importance of soil nematode and microbial populations as suitable tools for bio-monitoring the effect of heavy metals on soil systems.
- Heavy metals