Macroinvertebrate Responses to Mitigative Liming of Dogway Fork, West Virginia

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Abstract

Dogway Fork, West Virginia, is a second–order stream affected by acid precipitation. One goal of the Acid Precipitation Mitigation Program was to determine if the composition or population levels of benthic macroinvertebrates were affected by limestone neutralization of the acidic waters (pH 4.5). Two techniques were used to determine any effects: seasonal Surber samples and in situ bioassays with selected genera. Prior to treatment, macroinvertebrate densities were low but represented a diverse group of acidtolerant taxa. During treatment, fewer macroinvertebrates were collected in the treated segment than in the untreated control. This appears to be a result of a number of factors, including substrate, flows, drift, fish predation, accumulation of limestone fines, and changes in water chemistry. Bioassays suggest that the limestone fines were not directly detrimental to the organisms but may have limited available habitat in the mixing zone. Limestone treatment affected the species composition of Dogway Fork. During four years of treatment, several new acid-sensitive taxa were collected in the treated segment. Data suggest that, with continued treatment, populations of these taxa can be expected to increase.

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