Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Jonathan Cumming.


Surface mining with concurrent reclamation to pasture is a major driver of land use and cover change in Appalachia and constitutes a massive disturbance. Prior research suggests that some aspects of recovery are either slow or incomplete. We examined ecosystem structure---including soil physical and chemical properties, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) infectivity and community, and plant diversity and community composition---on a chronosequence of pasture-reclaimed surface mines and an unmined pasture in northern West Virginia. We also examined the effect of inoculating red clover, grown with high or low phosphorus, with AMF communities from old and young pasture-reclaimed surface mines and an unmined hillside. Surface mining and reclamation dramatically altered ecosystem structure. Some aspects of ecosystem structure, including many measures of soil chemistry and infectivity of AMF, returned relatively rapidly to levels found on the unmined reference site. Other aspects of ecosystem structure, notably soil physical properties and AMF and vegetation communities, showed incomplete or no recovery over the short-to-medium term. Clover inoculated with AMF from either the young or old mine site were smaller and less phosphorus-efficient than clover inoculated with AMF from the unmined site. Many effects of surface mining and reclamation are not ameliorated in the short-to-medium term.