Evaluating Recovery of Stream Ecosystems from Mining Pollution: Integrating Biochemical, Population, Community and Ecosystem Indicators

EPA Grant Number: R829515C004
Subproject: this is subproject number 004 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R829515
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: HSRC - Rocky Mountain Regional Hazardous Substance Research Center for Remediation of Mine Waste Sites
Center Director: Shackelford, Charles D.
Title: Evaluating Recovery of Stream Ecosystems from Mining Pollution: Integrating Biochemical, Population, Community and Ecosystem Indicators
Investigators: Clements, William , Ranville, James
Institution: Colorado State University , Colorado School of Mines
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: November 1, 2001 through October 31, 2003
Project Amount: Refer to main center abstract for funding details.
RFA: Hazardous Substance Research Centers - HSRC (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Land and Waste Management

Objective:

This research will integrate the fields of aquatic toxicology and ecotoxicology to characterize the recovery of a stream ecosystem from mining pollution. The ultimate goals of our research are: i) to improve our mechanistic understanding of ecological responses to heavy metals across several levels of biological organization; and ii) to evaluate indicators of recovery in a metal polluted stream (the Arkansas River) following improvements in water quality.

Approach:

We will combine experimental stream studies and a long-term field monitoring project to characterize responses of aquatic organisms to heavy metals. Experiments conducted in stream microcosms will quantify concentration-response relationships between heavy metals and biochemical (bioaccumulation), population (mortality, size structure of dominant taxa), community (species diversity, community composition) and ecosystem (respiration) level indicators. To test the hypothesis that these indicators are sensitive to improvements in water quality, we will validate responses in a large-scale 'natural experiment' (sensu Diamond 1986) conducted in the Arkansas River, a metal polluted stream in central Colorado. Metal concentrations in the Arkansas River are expected to decline over the next few years as a result of remediation activities in California Gulch, a U.S. EPA Superfund.

Expected Results:

The most important expected benefits of this research are: i) an improved understanding of the mechanistic linkages among ecological indicators at different levels of biological organization; and ii) development and validation of a suite of indicators that can be used to assess recovery of metal-polluted streams in the Rocky Mountain region. Traditional biological monitoring programs for evaluating water quality and for assessing ecological integrity are seriously limited because of the inability to demonstrate direct cause-and-effect relationships. Our microcosm experiments are designed not only to show causation but to establish concentration-response relationships between heavy metals and a suite of biochemical, population, community, and ecosystem level indicators. We will test these predictions by evaluating indicator responses to improvements in water quality in the Arkansas River following a large-scale remediation program.

Supplemental Keywords:

Streams; ecological effects; heavy metals; Rocky Mountains., RFA, Industry Sectors, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Remediation, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Restoration, Mining - NAIC 21, Hazardous Waste, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, Groundwater remediation, Hazardous, Environmental Engineering, hydrogeology, risk assessment, monitoring, stakeholder groups, aquatic ecosystem, contaminated waste sites, contaminant transport, contaminated sites, community involvement, streams, acid mine drainage, remediation technologies, bioavailability, metal release, restoration strategies, mining, leaching of toxic metals, treatment, ecological recovery, geochemistry, rivers, water quality criteria, contaminated groundwater, acid mine discharge, aquatic ecosystems, environmental rehabilitation, water quality, contaminated aquifers, extraction of metals, metal wastes, ecological impact, ecological indicators, heavy metal contamination, heavy metals, mining wastes, metals, stream ecosystem, acid mine runoff

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2002 Progress Report
  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R829515    HSRC - Rocky Mountain Regional Hazardous Substance Research Center for Remediation of Mine Waste Sites

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R829515C001 Redox Transformations, Complexation and Soil/Sediment Interactions of Inorganic Forms of As and Se in Aquatic Environments: Effects of Natural Organic Matter
    R829515C002 Fate and Transport of Metals and Sediment in Surface Water
    R829515C003 Metal Removal Capabilities of Passive Bioreactor Systems: Effects of Organic Matter and Microbial Population Dynamics
    R829515C004 Evaluating Recovery of Stream Ecosystems from Mining Pollution: Integrating Biochemical, Population, Community and Ecosystem Indicators
    R829515C005 Rocky Mountain Regional Hazardous Substance Research Center Training and Technology Transfer Program
    R829515C006 Technical Outreach Services for Communities and Technical Assistance to Brownfields
    R829515C007 Evaluation of Hydrologic Models for Alternative Covers at Mine Waste Sites
    R829515C008 Microbial Reduction of Uranium in Mine Leachate by Fermentative and Iron-Reducing Bacteria
    R829515C009 Development and Characterization of Microbial Inocula for High-Performance Passive Treatment of Acid Mine Drainage
    R829515C010 Reactive Transport Modeling of Metal Removal From Anaerobic Biozones
    R829515C011 Assessment of Electrokinetic Injection of Amendments for Remediation of Acid Mine Drainage
    R829515C012 Metal Toxicity Thresholds for Important Reclamation Plant Species of the Rocky Mountains
    R829515C013 An Improved Method for Establishing Water Quality Criteria for Mining Impacted Streams