Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mining can damage fish habitats far downstream, study shows

26.11.2014

Anglers across the nation wondering why luck at their favorite fishing spot seems to have dried up may have a surprising culprit: a mine miles away, even in a different state.

Scientists at Michigan State University (MSU) have taken a first broad look at the impacts of mines across the country- and found that mining can damage fish habitats miles downstream, and even in streams not directly connected to the mines.


In this image, acid is seeping from a Kentucky coal mine.

Credit: Wesley Daniel, Michigan State University


The figure shows coal mines (marked with an "x") and mineral minds (black dots) in the three study ecoregions. Characteristics of the Northern Appalachian (NAP), Southern Appalachian (SAP) and Temperate Plains (TPL) ecoregions. 892 Ecoregion area is from US EPA's National Wadeable Streams Assessment (US EPA, 2006), and total stream length within each 893 ecoregion was determined from the NHDPlusV1 stream layer. Total number of mineral mines is from USGS Mineral Resources 894 Program (USGS, 2003), and total number of coal mines (minor and major) is from USTRAT database (USGS, 2012). Highest mine 895 density was calculated for network catchments. Average percentages of agricultural and urban land use and impervious surface within 896 each region were derived from the 2001 NLCD.

Credit: Wesley Daniel, Michigan State University

The work is published in this week's issue of the journal Ecological Indicators.

"We've been surprised that even a single mine in headwaters might influence larger rivers miles downstream," said Wesley Daniel, a research associate at Michigan State University. "Mines have a much stronger influence on fishes than has been assumed. It's important, when considering the location of a new mine, to not just look local - but look way downstream."

Mining occurs in every state for a variety of natural resources - such as coal, precious metals, pebbles, sand and salt. Mining disrupts the environment around it, Daniel said. It can add sediments and chemicals to rivers, alter the flow of streams, lead to fewer forests in headwaters, and compact soil - all of which can change fish habitats.

And what happens to the river or stream near the mine flows downstream and can wreak havoc on populations of trout or bass and the smaller fishes that they prefer, far from the mine's location. The study looked at areas throughout the eastern United States typically known for mining, such as Appalachia, but also included areas where little mining research has been done, such as Iowa and Illinois

Daniel works in the lab of Dana Infante, associate professor of fisheries and wildlife who studies the way landscape and land use affect water. Colleagues in her lab recently developed an algorithm capable of crunching the mountains of data that tell the connected stories of the nation's streams and rivers.

That algorithm has allowed Daniel to take a long look at how extensive the effects of mines on rivers can be. His conclusion calls mines a "regional stress" and cites the example of pollutants from a mine in a headwater stream in Kentucky disrupting the breeding grounds of bass in Tennessee rivers.

While large rivers can dilute the damage a mine may do, the small streams that feed into a watershed may be much more fragile.

"The quality of headwater streams will determine quality of rivers," Daniel said. "The condition of small streams that flow into larger rivers will affect downstream fish communities. Everything is cumulative -- again and again we can see that the effects of one mine can be associated with altered fish communities."

Along with Daniel and Infante, "Characterizing coal and mineral mines as a regional source of stress to stream fish assemblages" was written by Robert Hughes at Amnis Opes Institute; Yin-Phan Tsang, Daniel Wieferich, Kyle Herreman, Arthur Cooper and William Taylor at MSU; Peter Esselman at the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Lizhu Wang of the International Joint Commission Great Lakes Regional Office in Detroit.

Infante, Tsang, Esselman and Taylor are affiliated with the MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, an interdisciplinary research center that works in the innovative new field of coupled human and natural systems to find sustainable solutions that both benefit the environment and enable people to thrive.

The research was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Sue Nichols | EurekAlert!

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

nachricht 100 % Organic Farming in Bhutan – a Realistic Target?
15.06.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Creating a new composite fuel for new-generation fast reactors

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Game-changing finding pushes 3D-printing to the molecular limit

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Could this material enable autonomous vehicles to come to market sooner?

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>