Abstract: Only little attention has been paid to the impact of acid mine drainages (AMD) on aquatic ecosystems in Central Europe. In this study, we investigate the physico-chemical properties of low-order streams and the response of benthic invertebrates to AMD pollution in the Banská Štiavnica mining region (Slovakia). The studied streams showed typical signs of mine drainage pollution: higher conductivity, elevated iron, aluminum, zinc and copper loads and accumulations of ferric precipitates. Electric conductivity correlated strongly with most of the investigated elements (weighted mean absolute correlation = 0.95) and, therefore, can be recommended as a good proxy indicator for rapid AMD pollution assessments. The diversity and composition of invertebrate assemblages was related to water chemistry. Taxa richness decreased significantly along an AMD-intensity gradient. While moderately affected sites supported relatively rich assemblages, the harshest environmental conditions (pH < 2.5) were typical for the presence of a limited number of very tolerant taxa, such as Oligochaeta and some Diptera (Limnophyes, Forcipomyiinae). The trophic guild structure correlated significantly with AMD chemistry, whereby predators completely disappeared under the most severe AMD conditions. We also provide a brief review of the AMD literature and outline the needs for future detailed studies involving functional descriptors of the impact of AMD on aquatic ecosystems.
Keywords: water pollution; heavy metals; benthos; headwater streams; Banská Štiavnica; Slovakia
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Svitok, M.; Novikmec, M.; Bitušík, P.; Máša, B.; Oboňa, J.; Očadlík, M.; Michalková, E. Benthic Communities of Low-Order Streams Affected by Acid Mine Drainages: A Case Study from Central Europe. Water 2014, 6, 1312-1338.
Svitok M, Novikmec M, Bitušík P, Máša B, Oboňa J, Očadlík M, Michalková E. Benthic Communities of Low-Order Streams Affected by Acid Mine Drainages: A Case Study from Central Europe. Water. 2014; 6(5):1312-1338.
Svitok, Marek; Novikmec, Milan; Bitušík, Peter; Máša, Branislav; Oboňa, Jozef; Očadlík, Miroslav; Michalková, Eva. 2014. "Benthic Communities of Low-Order Streams Affected by Acid Mine Drainages: A Case Study from Central Europe." Water 6, no. 5: 1312-1338.