Humic Substances Increase Survival of Freshwater Shrimp Caridina sp. D to Acid Mine Drainage

  • Aleicia Holland
  • Leo J. Duivenvoorden
  • Susan H. W. Kinnear


Humic substances (HS) are known to decrease the toxicity of heavy metals to aquatic organisms, and it has been suggested that they can provide buffering protection in low pH conditions. Despite this, little is known about the ability for HS to increase survival to acid mine drainage (AMD). In this study, the ability of HS to increase survival of the freshwater shrimp (Caridina sp. D sensu Page et al. in Biol Lett 1:139–142, 2005) to acid mine drainage was investigated using test waters collected from the Mount Morgan open pit in Central Queensland with the addition of Aldrich humic acid (AHA). The AMD water from the Mount Morgan open pit is highly acidic (pH 2.67) as well as contaminated with heavy metals (1780 mg/L aluminum, 101 mg/L copper [Cu], 173 mg/L manganese, 51.8 mg/L zinc [Zn], and 51.8 mg/L iron). Freshwater shrimp were exposed to dilutions in the range of 0.5 % to 5 % AMD water with and without the addition of 10 or 20 mg/L AHA. In the absence of HS, all shrimp died in the 2.5 % AMD treatment. In contrast, addition of HS increased survival in the 2.5 % AMD treatment by ≤66 % as well as significantly decreased the concentration of dissolved Cu, cobalt, cadmium, and Zn. The decreased toxicity of AMD in the presence of HS is likely to be due to complexation and precipitation of heavy metals with the HS; it is also possible that HS caused changes to the physiological condition of the shrimp, thus increasing their survival. These results are valuable in contributing to an improved understanding of potential role of HS in ameliorating the toxicity of AMD environments.


Heavy Metal Humic Substance Acid Mine Drainage Freshwater Shrimp Acid Mine Drainage Treatment 
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This study was supported by the Women’s Equal Opportunity Postgraduate Research Award, the Centre for Environmental Management, and Central Queensland University. The authors acknowledge Satish Choy for confirmation of shrimp identification, Heather Smyth for help with water chemistry, ALS limited, for providing the heavy-metal results, Gail Tucker for creation of the map, Steve Mckillup for help with statistical design, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aleicia Holland
    • 1
  • Leo J. Duivenvoorden
    • 1
  • Susan H. W. Kinnear
    • 2
  1. 1.Freshwater Ecology Group, Centre for Environmental ManagementCentral Queensland UniversityRockhamptonAustralia
  2. 2.Sustainable Regional Development Programme, Centre for Environmental ManagementCentral Queensland UniversityRockhamptonAustralia

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