EFFECTS OF LONG-TERM SALINIZATION: A MULTI-YEAR STUDY OF INVERTEBRATE COMMUNITY STRUCTURE IN COAL MINE-INFLUENCED STREAMS
Timpano, A. J., Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, USA, email@example.com
Schoenholtz, S. H., Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Soucek, D. J., Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, USA, email@example.com
Zipper, C. E., Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Salinization is a stressor of growing concern for freshwater ecosystems around the world. In Appalachian catchments where coal is mined, streams have been salinized by leachates from accelerated weathering of mine spoils. In such streams, organisms experience long-term exposure to dissolved solids that are elevated relative to background. To quantify associations between elevated salinity and invertebrate community structure, we surveyed 27 headwater streams in the Central Appalachian coalfield region for up to four years. Salinized streams had reference-quality habitat and spanned a gradient of salinity, with most having elevated concentrations of SO42-, HCO3–, Ca2+, and Mg2+. Here we identify biological metrics and benthic macroinvertebrate groups that are sensitive to salinity, and quantify how those metrics vary with increasing salinity.