, Volume 52, Issue 2–3, pp 221–233 | Cite as

Effects of mine drainage on the river hayle, cornwall a) factors affecting concentrations of copper, zinc and iron in water, sediments and dominant invertebrate fauna

  • Barbara E. Brown


Concentrations of copper, zinc and iron were measured in waters, sediments and invertebrates collected from the River Hayle. In river water at least 70% of copper and iron was associated with the ‘particulate’ fraction whereas 80% of zinc was in the ‘soluble’ form. Although total concentrations of zinc in water exceeded those of copper approximately ten fold, copper predominated over zinc in the sediments by a factor of approximately three. Iron was the most abundant metal recorded in both water and sediments.

Seasonal differences in ‘total’ metal content of waters suggested that concentrations of copper, zinc and iron increased during. periods of high flow and decreased during lower flows. Copper concentrations in the sediment, unlike zinc and iron, showed markedly higher values during the summer sampling period when flows were minimal.

In the ‘free-living’ Trichoptera larvae, concentrations of copper and zinc in the tissue appeared to follow copper and zinc levels in the water. Similar relationships in Odonata and Plecoptera larvae were not obtained. Factors affecting animal/metal relationships are discussed with particular reference to adaptation shown by organisms exposed to high concentrations of heavy metals in their environment.


heavy metals mine drainage animal/metal relationships 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arthur, J. W. & Leonard, E. N. 1970. Effects of copper on Gammarus pseudolimnaeus, Physa integra, and Campeloma decisum in soft water. J. Fish. Res. Bd Can. 27, 1277–1283.Google Scholar
  2. Ball, I. R. 1967. The relative susceptibilities of some species of fresh-water fish to poisons II. Zinc. Wat. Res. 1. 777–783.Google Scholar
  3. Beament, J. W. L. 1961. The waterproofing mechanism of Arthropods. II. The permeability of the cuticle of some aquatic insects. J. exp. Biol. 38, 277–90.Google Scholar
  4. Bowen, H. J. M. 1966. In: Trace elements in biochemistry pp. 231. Acad. Press. London and New York.Google Scholar
  5. Brown, V. M. 1968. The calculation of the acute toxicity of mixtures of poisons to rainbow trout. Wat. Res. 2, 723–733.Google Scholar
  6. Bryan, G. W. & Hummerstone, L. G. 1973. Adaptation of the polychaete Nereis diversicolor to estuarine sediments containing high concentrations of zinc and cadmium. J. mar. biol. Ass. U.K. 53, 839–957Google Scholar
  7. Carpenter, K. E. 1924. A study of the fauna of rivers polluted by lead-mining in the Aberystwyth district of Cardiganshire. Ann. Appl. Biol. 11, 1–23.Google Scholar
  8. Carpenter, K. E. 1925. Biological factors involved in the distribution of river fisheries by pollution due to lead mining. Ann. Appl. Biol. 12, 1–13.Google Scholar
  9. Carpenter, K. E. 1926. The land-mine as an active agent in river pollution. Ann. Appl. Biol. 13, 395–401.Google Scholar
  10. Carpenter, K. E. 1927a. Faunistic ecology of some Cardiganshire streams. J. Ecol. 15, 33–54.Google Scholar
  11. Carpenter, K. E. 1927b. The lethal action of soluble metallic salts on fishes. J. exp. Biol. 4, 378–390Google Scholar
  12. Carpenter, K. E. 1930. Further researches on the action of metallic salts on fishes. J. exp. Zool. 56, 407–422.Google Scholar
  13. Cummings, K. W. 1973. Trophic relations of aquatic insects. Ann. Rev. Entomol. 18, 183–205.Google Scholar
  14. Dines, H. G. 1956. The Metalliferous Mining Region of South-West England. I, 508 pp. London. H.M. Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  15. Earl, B. 1968. Cornish Mining. 117 pp. Truro and Bradford Barton Ltd.Google Scholar
  16. Elliott, J. M. 1965. Daily fluctuations of drift invertebrates in a Dartmoor stream. Nature 205, 1127–1129.Google Scholar
  17. Elliott, J. M. 1971. Some methods for the statistical analysis of samples of benthic invertebrates. Scient. Publs. Freshwat. biol. Ass. 25, 126–127.Google Scholar
  18. Gibbs, R. J. 1973. Mechanisms of Trace Metal Transport in Rivers. Science 180, 71–73.Google Scholar
  19. Irving, H. M. N. H. & Williams, R. J. F. 1948. Order of stability of metal complexes. Nature 162, 746–747.Google Scholar
  20. James, T. C., Laurie, R. D. & Newton, L. 1932. A study of the present condition of the river Rheidol. Ser. No. 607. Rep. No. 419. Min. Ag. Fish. Stand. Comm. on River Pollution.Google Scholar
  21. Johnels, A. G. & Westermark, T. 1969. Mercury contamination of the environment in Sweden. In. Chemical Fall-out (Ed. by N. W. Miller and G. C. Berg) pp. 521. Charles C. Thomas, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  22. Jones, J. R. E. 1936. The toxicity of dissolved lead salts to the stickleback and other aquatic species in relation to pollution in the river Rheidol. Ser. No. 746. Rep. No. 527. Min. Ag. Fish. Stand. Comm. on River Pollution.Google Scholar
  23. Jones, J. R. E. 1938a. The relative toxicity of salts of lead, zinc and copper to the stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.) and the effect of calcium on the toxicity of lead and zinc salts. J. exp. Biol. 15, 394–407Google Scholar
  24. Jones, J. R. E. 1928b. The relative sensitivity of aquatic species to lead in solution. Appendix. of Anim. Ecol. 7, 287–289.Google Scholar
  25. Jones, J. R. E. 1940a. A study of the zinc-polluted river Ystwyth in north Cardiganshire, Wales. Ann. Appl. Biol. 27, 368–78.Google Scholar
  26. Jones, J. R. E. 1940b. The fauna of the river Melindwr, a lead polluted tributary of the river Rheidol in north Cardiganshire, Wales. J. Anim. Ecol. 9, 188–201.Google Scholar
  27. Jones, J. R. E. 1941. The fauna of the river Dovey, West Wales. J. Anim. Ecol. 10, 12–24.Google Scholar
  28. Jones, J. R. E. 1949. An ecological study of the river Rheidol. The food of the common insects of the main stream. J. Anim. Ecol. 19, 159–174Google Scholar
  29. Jones, J. R. E. & Howells, W. R. 1969. Recovery of the river Rheidol. Effl. Wat. Treatment J. 9, 605–610.Google Scholar
  30. Lloyd, R. 1960. The toxicity of zinc sulphate to rainbow trout. Ann. Appl. Biol. 48, 84–94.Google Scholar
  31. Lloyd, R. 1961b. The toxicity of mixtures of zinc and copper sulphates to rainbow trout (Salmo gairdnerii Richardson). Ann. Appl. Biol. 49, 535–538Google Scholar
  32. Lloyd, R. 1965. Factors that affect the tolerance of fish to heavy metal poisoning. In: Biological Problems in Water Pollution. 3rd Seminar 1962. U.S. Dept. Health, Education and Welfare, 181–187.Google Scholar
  33. Mathis, B. J. & Cummings, T. F. 1973. Selected metals in sediments, water and biota in the Illinois River. Jour. Water. Poll. Control Fed. 45, 1573–1583Google Scholar
  34. Slack, H. D. 1936. The food of caddis fly (Trichoptera) larvae. J. Anim. Ecol. 5, 105–115.Google Scholar
  35. Smith, A. E. 1973a. A study of the Variation with pH of the Insolubility and Stability of some Metal Ions at Low Concentrations in Aqueous solution. Part 1. Analyst. Lond. 98, 65–68.Google Scholar
  36. Stiff, M. J. 1971. The chemical states of copper in polluted fresh water and a scheme of analysis to differentiate them. Wat. Res. 5, 585–599.Google Scholar
  37. Tabata, K. 1969a. Studies on the Toxicity of Heavy Metals to Aquatic Animals and Factors to Decrease the Toxicity. I. On the Formation and the Toxicity of Precipitate of Heavy Metals. Bull. Tokai Reg. Fish. Res. Lab. 58, 203–24.Google Scholar
  38. Williams, L. G., Joyce, J. C. & Monk, J. T. 1973. Stream Velocity Effects on the Heavy Metal Concentrations. J. Amer. Water Works Ass. 65, 275–279.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dr. W. Junk b. v. Publishers 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara E. Brown

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations