Current ionising radiation doses in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone do not directly impact on soil biological activity

Beresford, Nicholas A. ORCID:; Wood, Michael D.; Gashchak, Sergey; Barnett, Catherine L. ORCID: 2022 Current ionising radiation doses in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone do not directly impact on soil biological activity. PLoS ONE, 17 (2), e0263600. 18, pp.

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Although soil organisms are essential for ecosystem function, the impacts of radiation on soil biological activity at highly contaminated sites has been relatively poorly studied. In April-May 2016, we conducted the first largescale deployment of bait lamina to estimate soil organism (largely soil invertebrate) feeding activity in situ at study plots in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ). Across our 53 study plots, estimated weighted absorbed dose rates to soil organisms ranged from 0.7 μGy h-1 to 1753 μGy h-1. There was no significant relationship between soil organism feeding activity and estimated weighted absorbed dose rate. Soil biological activity did show significant relationships with soil moisture content, bulk density (used as a proxy for soil organic matter) and pH. At plots in the Red Forest (an area of coniferous plantation where trees died because of high radiation exposure in 1986) soil biological activity was low compared to plots elsewhere in the CEZ. It is possible that the lower biological activity observed in the Red Forest is a residual consequence of what was in effect an acute high exposure to radiation in 1986.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pollution (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: radioecology
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 25 Feb 2022 10:55 +0 (UTC)

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