The impact of tantalite mining on the flora diversity in Nasarawa state, Nigeria.
The activities of the artisanals and small-scale miners in Nasarawa state, Nigeria, are increasing daily without considering the loss of biodiversity, which has continuously disrupted ecological functions and environmental balance. The study aimed at investigating the effect of tantalite mining activities on flora diversity. Three study sites were selected for floristic data collection, comprising tantalite mining site A situated in Azara, Awe LGA; tantalite mining site B situated in Tunga, Awe LGA; and referred site C situated along the Makurdi-Obi Road, Lafia LGA. Eight plots of 20 × 20 m were systematically placed along two transect lines of 1000 m with 500 m distance apart. The total numbers of 32 plant species, at the ratio of 11:20:21 individual species, were found in sites A, B, and referred site C, respectively. Tantalite mining site A showed 46% rare herbs dominating the site, with an introduction of new non-native species of Jateorhiza spp. and Hyptis suaveolens, presenting a significantly high number of individuals (p < 0.0069). Tantalite site B, Tunga, had 50% reductions of several indigenous tree species such as Daniellia oliveri and Vitex doniana, while site A had 75% reduction of tree species. Therefore, the floristic diversity in site A endured a higher degradation than in site B. The indigenous species in site A were almost completely replaced with problematic weeds, invasive weed species, and non-native plant species. The tree diversities in sites A and B were seriously threatened, and H. suaveolens has been regarded as a potentially invasive plant species in Nasarawa state, Nigeria.