Persistent Impacts of Trace Metals from Mining on Floodplain Grass Communities Along Soda Butte Creek, Yellowstone National Park.
ABSTRACT / In Yellowstone National Park, tailings and associated trace metals from past mining have been deposited along 28 km of Soda Butte Creek by large flood events. This study documents grass species diversity, density, and biomass; trace metal concentrations in soils; and soil pH, salinity, and clay content in four selected floodplain meadows contaminated by these tailings. Trace metal levels frequently exceed acceptable concentrations for agricultural soils at sampling points within the meadows. pH levels within flood-deposited tailings are strongly to moderately acid, while pH levels outside of tailings deposits are neutral. The data analysis: (1) shows that metals and acidity associated with tailings affect plant biomass, density, and diversity; (2) documents that the vegetation/metal and vegetation/pH associations are more of a threshold than a linear relationship; and (3) suggests that other factors may be involved in structuring the community. Vegetation diversity, density, and biomass decrease at threshold levels of trace metal concentrations and soil pH in all four meadows. CuSum plots of diversity in relation to trace metal levels show a decrease in mean diversity at 315 ppm copper, 22 ppm arsenic, 4.2% iron, 65 ppm lead, and 170 ppm zinc. Densities of Phleum pratense and Poa pratensis were significantly lower (P </= 0.001) on plots with more than 250 ppm copper. Above-ground biomass of Phleum pratense was also significantly lower on plots with copper levels above 250 ppm. Decreased mean grass density was found on plots with pH < 6.4, but the only statistically significant difference was for Juncus balticus, which had increased density on plots with pH < 6.4. In contrast to the clear impacts of trace metals and pH on vegetation, other site characteristics did not alter measured vegetation characteristics.
Full-textDOI: · Available from: W. Andrew Marcus, May 30, 2015
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ABSTRACT: Porphyry Cu-Mo deposits have influenced surface water quality in high-Andes of north-central Chile since the Miocene. Water anomalies may reduce species abundance and diversity in alpine meadows as acidic and metal-rich waters are highly toxic to plants The study assessed the importance of surface water quality on plant abundance and diversity in high-alpine meadows at the Yerba Loca Natural Santuary (YLNS), central Chile (33°15' S, 70°18' W). Hydrochemical and plant prospecting were carried out on Piedra Carvajal, Chorrillos del Plomo and La Lata meadows the growing seasons of 2006 and 2007. Direct gradient analysis was performed through canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) to look for relationships among water chemistry and plant factors. High variability in water chemistry was found inside and among meadows, particularly for pH, sulphate, electric conductivity, hardness, and total dissolved Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb and Fe. Data on species abundance and water chemical factors suggests that pH and total dissolved Cu are very important factor determining changes in plant abundance and diversity in study meadows. For instance, Festuca purpurascens, Colobanthus quitensis, and Arenaria rivularis are abundant in habitals with Cu-rich waters while Festuca magellanica, Patosia clandestina, Plantago barbata, Werneria pygmea, and Erigeron andícola are abundant in habitals with dilute waters.Revista chilena de historia natural 12/2008; 81(4):469-488. DOI:10.4067/S0716-078X2008000400003 · 0.83 Impact Factor