Manchester Geographical Society

North West Geography


Volume 17, Number 2 2017

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Earthworm community development in organic matter-amended plots on reclaimed colliery spoil

Earthworms were sampled at a semi-restored colliery spoil site at Chisnall Hall in Lancashire, two and a half years after the site had been experimentally treated with a number of organic matter applications of anaerobic digestate and compost-like output, in isolation and in combinations. This gave six treatments including a control with no amendment. The material was mechanically dug into the site into replicated 20 x 10 m plots. Within each plot, four types of plant, ash, cherry, willow and reed canary grass, were introduced. Results showed that all organic treatments gave rise to significantly higher community densities of earthworms, with the greatest (638 earthworms m-2) in the high digestate application (1875 t ha-1) treatment, compared with 192 earthworms m-2 in the unamended control (p<0.05). Species that contributed to greatest numbers were Allolobophora chlorotica (the green worm) and Aporrectodea caliginosa (the grey worm), both shallow-working, and Aporrectodea longa (the black-headed worm), a deep burrower. Nine earthworm species were encountered in total. Planting type had no significant effect on earthworm density. Addition of organic matter to a colliery spoil site greatly enhanced earthworm community density, through a combination of immigration from surrounding areas and increased reproduction.

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Educational potential of peatlands and prehistoric bog oaks in Lancashire and adjoining regions

This paper documents recent projects where peatlands and bog oak discoveries have been at the heart of both education and research at Manchester Metropolitan University. Peatlands are numerous in the Manchester and surrounding areas and have been exploited over millennia. Peat removal has uncovered the remains of prehistoric woodlands, and bog oaks are now the focus of undergraduate research, revealing the nature of the prehistoric environment. Currently postgraduate research aims to optimise conditions for the successful re-vegetation of peat surfaces, reflecting a shift in attitudes from peatland exploitation to restoration. Organizations such as the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Natural England and Manchester Metropolitan University have been at the forefront of recent initiatives to conserve and enhance peatlands, as well as to communicate their values: palaeoecological, wildlife and biodiversity, ability to store carbon as a buffer against climate change, water storage, recreational and amenity. Initiatives such as the Chat Moss and Accessing Manchester's Mosslands Projects are highlighted as examples of good practice in communicating peatland values and research to wider audiences. Educational initiatives embracing peatlands in the curricula and research are key to producing knowledgeable and enthusiastic future champions of our peatlands.

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