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Cadmium Accumulation in Periphyton from an Abandoned Mining District in the Buffalo National River, Arkansas


The Rush Mining District along the Buffalo River in Arkansas has a significant history of zinc and lead mining operations. The tails and spoils of these operations deposit heavy amounts of raw ore into streams. One element commonly found in the earth’s crust that becomes a minor constituent of the deposition is cadmium. Periphyton samples from Rush Creek and Clabber Creek, two creeks within the Rush Mining District were measured for cadmium as well as two creeks with no history of mining, Spring Creek and Water Creek. Periphyton samples from Rush and Clabber Creek contained mean cadmium concentrations of 436.6 ± 67.3 and 93.38 ± 8.67 µg/kg, respectively. Spring Creek and Water Creek had a mean cadmium concentration of 40.49 ± 3.40 and 41.78 ± 3.99 µg/kg within periphyton. The results indicate increased metal concentrations in algal communities from mined areas. As periphyton is the base of the aquatic food chain, it acts as a conduit for movement of cadmium in the food web.

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This study was made possible with support from Arkansas State University, the A-State Ecotoxicology Research Facility, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, and the National Park Service. Special thanks to Katelyenn McCauley, Alex Gurley, Cole Harken, Shelby Chappell and Chris Thigpen for their assistance in field and lab work. A special thanks goes to Faron Usery, Chuck Bitting, and Shawn Hodges for their enthusiasm and wisdom provided in development of this project.

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Correspondence to Jacob R. McCauley.

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McCauley, J.R., Bouldin, J.L. Cadmium Accumulation in Periphyton from an Abandoned Mining District in the Buffalo National River, Arkansas. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 96, 757–761 (2016).

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  • Bioaccumulation
  • Cadmium
  • Periphyton
  • Mining