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Surface coal mining influences on macroinvertebrate assemblages in streams of the Canadian Rocky Mountains

Kuchapski, Kathryn A., Rasmussen, Joseph B.
Environmental toxicology and chemistry 2015 v.34 no.9 pp. 2138-2148
Capniidae, Ephemeroptera, Trichoptera, alkalinity, coal, community health, hydrochemistry, macroinvertebrates, mining, selenium, streams, toxicity, Rocky Mountain region
To determine the region‐specific impacts of surface coal mines on macroinvertebrate community health, chemical and physical stream characteristics and macroinvertebrate family and community metrics were measured in surface coal mine‐affected and reference streams in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Water chemistry was significantly altered in mine‐affected streams, which had elevated conductivity, alkalinity, and selenium and ion concentrations compared with reference conditions. Multivariate redundancy analysis (RDA) indicated alterations in macroinvertebrate communities downstream of mine sites. In RDA ordination, Ephemeroptera family densities, family richness, Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera (EPT) richness, and % Ephemeroptera declined, whereas densities of Capniidae stoneflies increased along environmental gradients defined by variables associated with mine influence including waterborne Se concentration, alkalinity, substrate embeddedness, and interstitial material size. Shifts in macroinvertebrate assemblages may have been the result of multiple region‐specific stressors related to mining influences including selenium toxicity, ionic toxicity, or stream substrate modifications. Environ Toxicol Chem 2015;34:2138–2148. © 2015 SETAC