, Volume 542, Issue 1, pp 77–93

Recovery in diversity of fish and invertebrate communities following remediation of a polluted stream: investigating causal relationships



Spatial and temporal responses of biota to anthropogenic disturbance were measured over a 15 year period in a contaminated stream undergoing remediation and recovery. Along the spatial gradient of the stream, levels of contaminants decreased downstream along with improved responses of instream biota at several levels of biological organization. Recovery of the biota in this stream over the 15 year study period is demonstrated by the temporal relationships between levels of decreasing contaminants and the concomitant responses of the periphyton, macroinvertebrate, and fish communities and changes in the various bioindicators of individual fish health. Decreases in contaminants over a temporal scale were followed closely by an improvement in physiological and organismal-level indicators, increases in the diversity of macroinvertebrate and fish communities, and rapid increases in the chlorophyll a biomass and photosynthesis rate of the periphyton community. These results emphasize that field studies designed to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of restoration activities on stream recovery should incorporate a variety of response endpoints ranging from sensitive and short-term responses to long-term but ecological relevant indicators of change. The close spatial and temporal relationships observed between changes in physicochemical factors and positive responses in various components of the stream biota over the 15-year study period suggest a strong cause and effect relationship between remediation activities and stream recovery. Understanding causal relationships and the mechanistic processes between environmental stressors, stress responses of biota, and the recovery process is important in the effective management and restoration of aquatic ecosystems.


recovery restoration fish and macroinvertebrate communities causal relationships 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Sciences DivisionOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA

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