Potential effects of acid mine drainage (AMD) and thermal enrichment on the reproduction of fishes were investigated through a larval-trapping survey in the Stony River watershed, Grant County, WV. Trapping was conducted at seven sites from 26 March to 2 July 2004. Overall larval catch was low (379 individuals in 220 hours of trapping). More larval White Suckers were captured than all other species. Vectors fitted to nonparametric multidimensional scaling ordinations suggested that temperature was highly correlated to fish communities captured at our sites. Survival of larval Fathead Minnows was examined in situ at six sites from 13 May to 11 June 2004 in the same system. Larval survival was lower, but not significantly different between sites directly downstream of AMD-impacted tributaries (40% survival) and non-AMD sites (52% survival). The lower survival was caused by a significant mortality event at one site that coincided with acute pH depression in an AMD tributary immediately upstream of the site. Results from a Cox proportional hazard test suggests that low pH is having a significant negative influence on larval fish survival in this system. The results from this research indicate that the combination of low pH events and elevated temperature are negatively influencing the larval fish populations of the Stony River watershed. Management actions that address these problems would have the potential to substantially increase both reproduction rates and larval survival, therefore greatly enhancing the fishery.
Additional publication details
Influences of acid mine drainage and thermal enrichment on stream fish reproduction and larval survival