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 Robotic fish to replace animal testing
17.06.2019 | Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg

nachricht Marine oil snow
12.06.2019 | University of Delaware

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: Fraunhofer IDMT demonstrates its method for acoustic quality inspection at »Sensor+Test 2019« in Nürnberg

From June 25th to 27th 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau (Germany) will be presenting a new solution for acoustic quality inspection allowing contact-free, non-destructive testing of manufactured parts and components. The method which has reached Technology Readiness Level 6 already, is currently being successfully tested in practical use together with a number of industrial partners.

Reducing machine downtime, manufacturing defects, and excessive scrap

Im Focus: Successfully Tested in Praxis: Bidirectional Sensor Technology Optimizes Laser Material Deposition

The quality of additively manufactured components depends not only on the manufacturing process, but also on the inline process control. The process control ensures a reliable coating process because it detects deviations from the target geometry immediately. At LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be demonstrating how well bi-directional sensor technology can already be used for Laser Material Deposition (LMD) in combination with commercial optics at booth A2.431.

Fraunhofer ILT has been developing optical sensor technology specifically for production measurement technology for around 10 years. In particular, its »bd-1«...

Im Focus: The hidden structure of the periodic system

The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified

The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

'Sneezing' plants contribute to disease proliferation

24.06.2019 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Researchers find new mutation in the leptin gene

24.06.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>