In different areas of Great Britain comparing ecological studies have been made on disturbed and undisturbed heavy metal contaminated soils. In Grizedale (Pennine), sampling of an undisturbed transect having high levels of major nutrients showed marked differentiation within a small area, only related to the plant available levels of zinc, copper, and lead. However, studies on disturbed heavy metal soils and spoil-heaps revealed a low water capacity and a low supply of major nutrients, particularly of N and P. These suggest that here both the enrichment of heavy metals and the considerable decrease of other nutrients are important in determining the heavy metal vegetation, and in maintaining it against other species. The quantity of zinc in plants is not related to the total or plant-available amount of zinc in soil, but confirmed physiological experiments on the influence of phosphorus and different zinc compounds (complexed or inorganic) on the uptake and distribution of zinc in Thlaspi alpestre and Minnartia rerum. Also an antagonism between lead and copper was revealed. 24 references.