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Environ Pollut. 2017 May;224:759-770. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.12.072. Epub 2017 Jan 2.

Effects of potash mining on river ecosystems: An experimental study.

Author information

1
Aquatic Ecology Group, BETA Tecnio Centre, University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia, Vic, Catalonia, Spain; Grup de Recerca Freshwater Ecology and Management (FEM), Departament d'Ecologia, Facultat de Biologia, Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat (IRBio), Universitat de Barcelona (UB), Diagonal 643, 08028 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Electronic address: mcanedo.fem@gmail.com.
2
Aquatic Ecology Group, BETA Tecnio Centre, University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia, Vic, Catalonia, Spain; Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies, ICREA, Barcelona 08010, Spain.
3
Aquatic Ecology Group, BETA Tecnio Centre, University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia, Vic, Catalonia, Spain.
4
Grup de Recerca Freshwater Ecology and Management (FEM), Departament de Biologia Vegetal (Unitat de Botànica), Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), Diagonal 643, 08028 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
5
CERM, Center for the Study of Mediterranean Rivers, University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia, Passeig del Ter 2, 08560 Manlleu, Catalonia, Spain.
6
EcoRing, Lange Straße 9, 37181 Hardegsen, Germany.

Abstract

In spite of being a widespread activity causing the salinization of rivers worldwide, the impact of potash mining on river ecosystems is poorly understood. Here we used a mesocosm approach to test the effects of a salt effluent coming from a potash mine on algal and aquatic invertebrate communities at different concentrations and release modes (i.e. press versus pulse releases). Algal biomass was higher in salt treatments than in control (i.e. river water), with an increase in salt-tolerant diatom species. Salt addition had an effect on invertebrate community composition that was mainly related with changes in the abundance of certain taxa. Short (i.e. 48 h long) salt pulses had no significant effect on the algal and invertebrate communities. The biotic indices showed a weak response to treatment, with only the treatment with the highest salt concentration causing a consistent (i.e. according to all indices) reduction in the ecological quality of the streams and only by the end of the study. Overall, the treatment's effects were time-dependent, being more clear by the end of the study. Our results suggest that potash mining has the potential to significantly alter biological communities of surrounding rivers and streams, and that specific biotic indices to detect salt pollution should be developed.

KEYWORDS:

Aquatic invertebrates; Biotic indices; Diatoms; Mining; Salinization; Salt pulses

PMID:
28057374
DOI:
10.1016/j.envpol.2016.12.072
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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