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EXPERIMENTAL EFFECTS OF CONDUCTIVITY AND MAJOR IONS ON STREAM PERIPHYTON - abstract
Smucker, N., S. DeCelles, S. Guglielmi, AND C. Nietch. EXPERIMENTAL EFFECTS OF CONDUCTIVITY AND MAJOR IONS ON STREAM PERIPHYTON - abstract. Presented at Society for Freshwater Science, Sacramento, CA, May 21 - 26, 2016.
While resource extraction is important to energy production, the processes can create wastewaters and leachate that contribute to elevated conductivities and ion concentrations in streams. Understanding the effects of elevated conductivities is important to informing future practices and management efforts. Further, the ions contributing to conductivity could have different effects on stream biology (i.e., similar conductivities with different dominant ions might have dissimilar ecological effects). This experiment examined if elevated conductivities and two ion mixtures affected stream periphyton assemblages, which are important to primary productivity and ecosystem functions.
Our study examined if specific conductivities comprised of different ions associated with resource extraction affected stream periphyton assemblages, which are important sources of primary production. Sixteen artificial streams were dosed with two ion recipes intended to mimic sources and ranges of conductivity observed from field surveys. One recipe mimicked deep well brine [chloride salts dominating] and was dosed at five levels. The other reflected surface coal mine leachate [bicarbonate and sulfate salts dominating] and was dosed at four levels. Statistically significant changes in community structure occurred with increasing conductivity, but algal communities became more dissimilar to control treatments with increasing bicarbonate and sulfate than with increasing chloride concentrations. Measures of algal biomass were somewhat variable in the two treatments, but tended to increase with greater bicarbonate-sulphate concentrations. Possible dose-time interactions are being further explored, and dose response curves are being developed to further examine taxa responses to ion concentrations. Results indicate that periphyton communities respond to anthropogenic increases in conductivities, but responses may differ depending on the dominant ions comprising the conductivity.