Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Integrating Environmental Variables by Multivariate Ordination enables the Reliable Estimation of Mineland Rehabilitation Status

Version 1 : Received: 17 September 2019 / Approved: 18 September 2019 / Online: 18 September 2019 (12:57:40 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.


Despite the wide variety of variables commonly applied to measure different aspects of rehabilitation, the assessment and subsequent definition of indicators of environmental rehabilitation status are not simple tasks. The main challenges are comparing rehabilitated sites with target ecosystems as well as integrating individual environmental and eventually collinear variables into a single tractable measure of the state of a system before effective indicators that track rehabilitation may be modeled. For that, a consensus is lacking regarding which and how many variables need to be surveyed. Our approach considered ecological processes, vegetation structure, and community diversity from nonrehabilitated, rehabilitating and reference sites. We applied this approach to a curated set of 32 environmental variables retrieved from nonrevegetated, rehabilitating and reference sites associated with iron ore mines from the Urucum Massif, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. By integrating variables from a single attribute or the entire set of variables into a single estimation of rehabilitation status, the proposed multivariate approach is straightforward and able to adequately address collinearity among variables. The proposed approach allows for the identification of biases towards single variables, surveys or analyses, which is necessary to rank environmental variables regarding their importance to the assessment. Furthermore, we show that bootstrapping permitted the detection of the minimum number of environmental variables necessary to achieve reliable estimations of the rehabilitation status. Finally, we show that the proposed variable integration enables the definition of environmental indicators for more comprehensive monitoring of mineland rehabilitation. Thus, the proposed multivariate ordination represents a powerful tool to outline the benefits of rehabilitating sites for the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services provided that sufficient environmental variables related to ecological processes, diversity and vegetation structure are gathered from nonrehabilitated, rehabilitating and reference study sites. By identifying deviations from predicted rehabilitation trajectories and providing assessments for environmental agencies, this proposed multivariate ordination increases the effectiveness of (mineland) rehabilitation.


environmental monitoring; ecological processes; functional diversity; environmental indicators; primers for environmental rehabilitation; Urucum Massif


Biology and Life Sciences, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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