Are brook trout streams in Western Virginia and Shenandoah National Park recovering from acidification?

Environmental Science & Technology
By: , and 



Streamwater composition data obtained through periodic sampling of streams that support brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in the mountains of western Virginia were examined for evidence of recovery from acidification during the 1988−2001 period. Measurements of sulfate deposition in precipitation indicate that sulfate deposition in the region declined approximately 40% between 1985 and 2000. While no significant regional trends in acid−base constituents were observed for the set (n = 65) of western Virginia study streams, significant regional trends were observed for a subset (n = 14) of streams in Shenandoah National Park (SNP). For the subset of SNP streams, the median increase in acid-neutralizing capacity (ANC) was 0.168 μequiv L-1 year-1 and the median decrease in sulfate concentration was −0.229 μequiv L-1 year-1. Although these trends are consistent with recovery from acidification, the degree of apparent recovery is small compared to estimates of historic acidification in SNP streams and much less than observed in other, more northern regions in the United States. Correlation between sulfate concentration trends and current sulfate concentrations in streamwater suggests that recovery from stream acidification in the western Virginia region is determined by sulfur retention processes in watershed soils. A transient increase in nitrate concentrations that occurred among some western Virginia streams following forest defoliation by the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) complicates interpretation of the observed patterns of change in acid−base status.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Are brook trout streams in Western Virginia and Shenandoah National Park recovering from acidification?
Series title Environmental Science & Technology
DOI 10.1021/es049958a
Volume 38
Issue 15
Year Published 2004
Publisher American Chemical Society
Contributing office(s) Virginia and West Virginia Water Science Center
Description 6 p., 6 f.
First page 4091
Last page 4096
Country United States
State Virginia
Other Geospatial Shenandoah National Park
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