Hydrobiologia

, Volume 119, Issue 2, pp 129–138 | Cite as

The ecological effect of acid conditions and precipitation of hydrous metal oxides in a Rocky Mountain stream

  • Diane M. McKnight
  • Gerald L. Feder
Article

Abstract

Periphyton and benthic invertebrates assemblages were studied at the confluence of two Rocky Mountain streams, Deer Creek and the Snake River near Montezuma, Colorado. Upstream from the confluence the Snake River is acidic and enriched in dissolved trace metals, while Deer Creek is a typical Rocky Mountain stream. In the Snake River, downstream from the confluence, the pH increases and hydrous metal oxides precipitate and cover the streambed. The algal and benthic invertebrate communities in the upstream reaches of the Snake River and in Deer Creek were very different. A liverwort, Scapania undulata var. undulata, was abundant in the Snake River, and although periphyton were very sparse, there were as many benthic invertebrates as in Deer Creek. Downstream from the confleunce, the precipitation of hydrous metal oxides greatly decreased the abundance of periphyton and benthic invertebrates. This study shows that in streams metal precipitates covering the streambed may have a more deleterious effect on stream communities than high metal-ion activities.

Keywords

periphyton benthic invertebrates hydrous metal oxides acid conditions stream ecology 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Anderson, D. M. & F. M. Morel, 1978. Copper sensitivity of Gonyaulax tamarensis. Limnol. Oceanogr. 23: 283–295.Google Scholar
  2. Bennet, H. D., 1969. Algae in relation to mine water. Castanea 34: 306–328.Google Scholar
  3. Chessman, B. C & S. D. McCallum, 1981. A simple and inexpensive artificial-substrate unit for obtaining periphyton collections from streams. Wat. Res. Research. 15: 351–352.Google Scholar
  4. Cronan, C. S., 1980. Solution chemistry of a New Hampshire subalpine ecosystem: a biogeochemical analysis. Oikos 34: 271–282.Google Scholar
  5. Cronan, C. S. & C. L. Schofield, 1979. Aluminum leaching response to acid precipitations: Effects on high-elevation watersheds in the northeast. Science 204: 304–306.Google Scholar
  6. Greeson, P. E., T. A. Ehlke, G. A. Irwin, B. W. Lium & K. V. Slack, 1977. Methods for collection and analysis of aquatic biological and microbiological samples. U.S. Geol. Surv. Tech. Wat. Resour. Invest. Book 5, chapter A4.Google Scholar
  7. Hargreaves, J. W., E. J. H. Lloyd & B. A. Whitton, 1975. Chemistry and vegetation of highly acidic streams. Freshwat. Biol. 5: 563–576.Google Scholar
  8. Hynes, H. B. N., 1970. The Ecology of Running Waters. Univ. Toronto Press, Toronto, 555 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Lampkin, A. J., III & M. R. Sommerfeld, 1982. Algal distribution in a small intermittent stream receiving acid mine-drainage. J. Phycol. 18: 196–199.Google Scholar
  10. Lium, B. W. & W. T. Shoaf, 1979. Cellular contents, in a supplement of Methods for collection and analysis of aquatic biological and microbiological samples. In P. E. Greeson (ed.), U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 70–1279.Google Scholar
  11. McKnight, D. M., 1981. Chemical and biological processes controlling the response of freshwater ecosystem to copper stress: A field study of the CuSO4 treatment of Mill Pond Reservoir, Burlington, Massachusettes. Limnol. Oceanogr. 26: 518–531.Google Scholar
  12. Merrit, R. W. & K. W. Cummins, 1978. An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America. Kendall Publishing Company, Dubuque, Iowa.Google Scholar
  13. Moran, R. E. & D. A. Wentz, 1974. Effects of metal-mine drainage on water quality in selected areas of Colorado, 1972–73. U.S. Geol. Surv., Colorado Wat. Resour. Circ. 25, 250 pp.Google Scholar
  14. Parsons, J. D., 1968. Effects of acid strip mine pollution on the ecology of a central Missouri stream. Arch. Hydrobiol. 65: 25–50.Google Scholar
  15. Pennak, R. W. & E. D. Van Gerpen, 1947. Bottom fauna production and physical nature of the substrata in a northern Colorado trout stream. Ecol. 28: 42–48.Google Scholar
  16. Say, P. S. & B. A. Whitton, 1980. Changes in flora down a stream showing a zinc gradient. Hydrobiologia 76: 255–262.Google Scholar
  17. Sunda, W. G. & R. R. Guillard, 1976. Relationship between cupric ion activity and the toxic of copper to phytoplankton. J. Mar. Res. 34: 511–529.Google Scholar
  18. Theobald, P. K., H. W. Lakin & D. B. Hawkins, 1963. The precipitation of aluminum, iron and manganese at the junction of Deer Creek with the Snake River in Summit Country, Colorado. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 27: 121–132.Google Scholar
  19. Thorup, J., 1966. Substrate type and its value as a basis for the delimitation of bottom fauna communities in running waters. Spec. Publs, Pymatuning Lab. Fld. Biol. 4: 59–74.Google Scholar
  20. van Dam, H., G. Suurmond & C. J. F. ter Braak, 1981. Impact of acidification on diatoms and chemistry of Dutch moorland pools. Hydrobiologia 83: 425–459.Google Scholar
  21. Warner, R. W., 1971. Distribution of biota in a stream polluted by acid-mine drainage. Ohio J. Sci. 71: 202–215.Google Scholar
  22. Westall, J. C., J. L. Zachary & F. M. Morel, 1979. MINEQL, a computer program for the calculation of chemical equilibrium composition of aqueous systems. Ralph M. Parsons Wat. Qual. Lab., Tech. Note 18, Mass. Inst. Tech., Cambridge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dr. W. Junk Publishers 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane M. McKnight
    • 1
  • Gerald L. Feder
    • 1
  1. 1.U. S. Geological Survey, Water Resources DivisionDenver Federal CenterDenverU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations