Academic journal article The American Midland Naturalist

Diversity and Community Structure of Littoral Zone Macroinvertebrates in Southern Illinois Reclaimed Surface Mine Lakes

Academic journal article The American Midland Naturalist

Diversity and Community Structure of Littoral Zone Macroinvertebrates in Southern Illinois Reclaimed Surface Mine Lakes

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT.-

Surface mine lakes are common in parts of the Midwest, but little is known about the communities that inhabit them or the factors shaping them. Our objectives were to: (1) characterize littoral zone macroinvertebrate communities in surface mine lakes; (2) identify factors that influence macroinvertebrate diversity and community structure; and (3) examine the utility of some commonly used bioassessment metrics to assess habitat quality based on macroinvertebrates. Fourteen lakes on a 1133 ha parcel in southern Illinois were sampled in spring 2003 using a dip net that was swept over two (small lakes) or three (large lakes) littoral zone transects. Three hundred macroinvertebrates were randomly removed from each sample and identified. Stepwise multiple regressions were used to examine relationships between several physicochemical and biological variables and macroinvertebrates. Oligochaetes were typically the most abundant taxon, followed by Hyalella, Chironomidae, Physella and Caenis. Seventy percent of the macroinvertebrates collected from the lakes were predators, while collector-gatherers and scrapers constituted 20% and 9%, respectively. Macroinvertebrate richness was positively related to sunfish abundance and macrophyte cover (R^sup 2^ = 0.91, P = 0.001). Simpson diversity was positively related to lake area, percent rock and gravel substrates and simazine concentration and negatively related to bank slope and transparency (R^sup 2^ = 0.92, P = 0.0003). Richness and diversity metrics, % Oligochaeta, % Chironomidae, % insect taxa and % dominance varied across lakes, while a Hilsenhoff index and the EPT index appeared less useful for biological assessments in these habitats. Results indicate that macroinvertebrate communities in these lakes are typical of littoral habitats in other lentic systems and that macroinvertebrate diversity might be enhanced during creation and management of these systems by manipulating coarse mineral substrates and vegetation.

INTRODUCTION

Reclaimed surface mine lakes form when groundwater inundates a mining excavation. Thousands of these lakes were created in the Midwest during the first half of the 20th Century as a result of extensive coal mining (Castro and Moore, 2000). However, much of this mining ceased with the passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, which severely restricted the conditions in which mining was permissible. Additionally, in some regions like southern Illinois, much of the coal mined in this manner was sulfur-rich, and its use was restricted because of links with air pollution and acid precipitation.

Recent technological advancements have made the cleaner burning of sulfur-rich coal possible, and local economies that suffered from reduced mining have prompted efforts to implement these practices. For example, the southern Illinois coal mining industry will likely be rejuvenated in the near future and, as a result, the already numerous strip mine lakes in this region will soon become even more abundant. Given their abundance and potential ecological and economic significance throughout the region, understanding the diversity, structure and function of these systems is important.

Surface mine lakes can differ from natural lakes and reservoirs in a variety of ways. For one, unglaciated natural lakes found in the Midwest are usually shallower, having relative depths that are often less than 2% (Miller et al, 1996; Doyle and Runnells, 1997; Castro and Moore, 2000). In contrast, deeper strip mine lakes may have relative depths approaching 40% (Miller et al, 1996; Doyle and Runnells, 1997; Castro and Moore, 2000). This is important because the relation between depth and surface area is an important factor determining water circulation and the distribution of oxygen, nutrients and other important constituents (Anderson and Hawkes, 1985; Doyle and Runnells, 1997; Wetzel, 2001). Shallower natural systems are also more likely to experience seasonal turnovers that can facilitate mixing. …

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