Transformation of the biogeochemical flows of mercury in the ecosystems of abandoned agricultural lands in Russia

  • Sergei A. Tobratov Landscape Geochemistry laboratory, Chair of Physical Geography Ryazan State University named for S.A. Yesenin 390000, Ryazan.
  • Olga S. Zheleznova Landscape Geochemistry laboratory Ryazan State University named for S.A. Yesenin 390000, Ryazan
Keywords: Biogeochemical anomalies, abandoned land, critical load method, mercury, technogenic pollution through the atmosphere


Using the methodology of critical loads, we studied the geographic peculiarities of changes in the natural stability of landscapes to mercury contamination through the atmosphere as a result of cropland abandonment; published the map of abandoned cropland in the central part of the Ryazan oblast as of 2015 (the materials are the courtesy of A.V. Prishchepov); identified and prioritized the main regional industrial emitters of mercury; estimated the average annual emission of Hg by industrial facilities of various types based on the specific features of the production; and showed that the most contrasting impact is associated with the activity of a cement manufacturer (a combination of notable amounts of involatile Hg emission and the relatively low height of industrial chimneys (120 m)); and found that the colonization of abandoned land with woody vegetation covers only small-area windless regions of the forest already existing in the territory, which determines the overall deterioration of resistance to Hg supply. We also noted that abandoned lands feature favorable conditions for the sedimentation of anthropogenic pollutants migrating in the atmosphere, which among other factors causes an increase in the concentration of biologically available forms of Hg in post-agrogenic soils by 1.5~1.8 times compared to the arable land and normal soil under forest ecosystems. We detected a local but contrasting anomaly of Hg in the tissues of post-agrogenic woody plants, where the mercury content exceeded the background levels by 20–200 times. It was noted that post-agrogenic ecosystems are less resilient to anthropogenic chemical pollution and their adaptation mechanisms are more likely to fail. In the study of the dispersion halos of technogenic Hg, the wood, bark, and branches of birch, being a common plant component of abandoned lands, should be recognized as the indicating biological objects.


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Author Biography

Olga S. Zheleznova, Landscape Geochemistry laboratory Ryazan State University named for S.A. Yesenin 390000, Ryazan

Ph.D. in biology, Scientific worker of the Landscape Geochemistry laboratory Ryazan State University named for S.A. Yesenin 390000, Ryazan


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How to Cite
Tobratov, S., & Zheleznova, O. (2019). Transformation of the biogeochemical flows of mercury in the ecosystems of abandoned agricultural lands in Russia. Amazonia Investiga, 8(23), 804-820. Retrieved from