Eastern Kentucky University

Poster Title

The Impact of Mining and Residential Pollutants on Stream Salamanders in Eastern Kentucky

Institution

Eastern Kentucky University

Abstract

Amphibian species are experiencing population declines worldwide. One cause of these declines is habitat loss and degradation. In eastern Kentucky, mining and residential development have altered nearly all stream systems. Consequently, many aquatic species have been negatively impacted. In order to determine the effect that mining and residential development has had on amphibians in eastern Kentucky, we conducted a study to assess community structure and population status of stream salamanders. At each of nine study sites within a single stream system, we conducted time-constrained searches to determine the abundance and condition (measured as body length: body mass) of salamanders and collected environmental data to assess water and habitat characteristics and quality. The quality of habitat for each site was determined using an Enivronmental Protection Agency habitat assessment protocol. Our sites were dominated by northern dusky salamanders (Desmognathus fuscus) and southern two-lined salamanders (Eurycea cirrigera). We found that local abundance and body condition of salamanders were inversely related to conductivity and level of habitat degradation. Elevated conductivity could be a result of heavy metals liberated from mining or increased sedimentation and runoff due to human development. Sites accounting for few or no captures had multiple chemical and physical factors that detrimentally altered the aquatic system. We will discuss these data in the context of current land use surrounding this stream system and of watershed conservation.

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The Impact of Mining and Residential Pollutants on Stream Salamanders in Eastern Kentucky

Amphibian species are experiencing population declines worldwide. One cause of these declines is habitat loss and degradation. In eastern Kentucky, mining and residential development have altered nearly all stream systems. Consequently, many aquatic species have been negatively impacted. In order to determine the effect that mining and residential development has had on amphibians in eastern Kentucky, we conducted a study to assess community structure and population status of stream salamanders. At each of nine study sites within a single stream system, we conducted time-constrained searches to determine the abundance and condition (measured as body length: body mass) of salamanders and collected environmental data to assess water and habitat characteristics and quality. The quality of habitat for each site was determined using an Enivronmental Protection Agency habitat assessment protocol. Our sites were dominated by northern dusky salamanders (Desmognathus fuscus) and southern two-lined salamanders (Eurycea cirrigera). We found that local abundance and body condition of salamanders were inversely related to conductivity and level of habitat degradation. Elevated conductivity could be a result of heavy metals liberated from mining or increased sedimentation and runoff due to human development. Sites accounting for few or no captures had multiple chemical and physical factors that detrimentally altered the aquatic system. We will discuss these data in the context of current land use surrounding this stream system and of watershed conservation.