The main goal of the project is to investigate soil recovery processes on the reclaimed territories of Kavtiskhevi and Gardabani quarries by means of soil inhabiting invertebrates. Soil zoocenoses, microarthopods in particular, by their complex structure and species composition are widely reported bioindicators of the regeneration degree of the productive soil layer (Bielska, 1995; Hutson, 1980).
Oribatid mites, in the Acarine suborder Oribatida, are associated with organic matter in most terrestrial ecosystems
(Behan-Pelletier and Eamer, 2007; Maraun et al., 2007; Norton and Behan-Pelletier, 2009; Schneider, 2005). Their ability for dispersal is low and those that do disperse as adults (Norton, 1994). As a result, oribatid mites cannot easily escape from stress conditions. Population of oribatid mites decline rapidly when their habitat is damaged, that allows detection of environmental degradation. So, they can be considered as «early warning» indicators of stress. Appearance and dominance of oribatid mites in the microarthropod complex indicates the beginning of soil and humus formation (Hutson, 1980; Dunger et al., 2001). Analyses of the structure of their communities help to reveal the degree of soil stability and its formation trend.
Springtails (Collembola) are major components of terrestrial ecosystems, constituting a substantial proportion of the soil animal biomass and diversity and are thus frequently and easily found (Coleman et al., 2004). Like oribatids, they play an important role in plant litter decomposition and in soil formation processes. They are known as one of the pioneers of early stages of soil recovery processes and rapid colonizers of reclaimed waste sites (Hutson, 1980). Collembolans are particularly sensitive to mechanical disturbances (Maraun, et al. 2003).
Goals of the project are to:
- Inventory of soil arthropods ( oribatid mites, springtails);
- Study biotic complexity of reclaimed and control sites using invertebrate animals as bioindicators;
- Identify pioneer colonists species and species adapted to the anthropogenic pressure;
- Reveal the effectiveness of provided reclamation activities
- Publish informative booklet and on line placement of the project activities and project results