This study examined trace elements concentrations and macroinvertebrate community structure at 32 sites in 22 streams in Colorado. Sites affected by mining activities (mining sites) and sites that were minimally disturbed (nonmining sites) were selected for the assessment. Water and transplanted aquatic bryophyte samples were analyzed for trace elements. Macroinvertebrate samples were collected to assess the effects of trace elements on the aquatic community of the stream. All samples of aquatic bryophytes had detectable concentrations of Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn. Principal components analysis of chemical and physical properties classified sites into three groups. The first group represented sites that were unaffected to minimally affected by mining activities; the second group was characterized by sites with Cd, Pb and Zn predominant in the mineralogy; and the third group was characterized by sites with Cu predominant in the mineralogy. Six macroinvertebrate families were common in the study area. Median values of total abundance, taxa richness and mayfly and stonefly abundance were reduced at mining sites. Abundances of Heptageniidae, Chloroperlidae and Rhyacophila and Baetis sp. also were reduced at sites with elevated trace element concentrations. Tanytarsini chironomids were most abundant at reference and minimally-disturbed sites.
Additional publication details
Using water, bryophytes, and macroinvertebrates to assess trace element concentrations in the Upper Colorado River Basin