Limestone Treatment of Whetstone Brook, Massachusetts. III. Changes in the Invertebrate Fauna

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Abstract

We monitored the invertebrate fauna in Whetstone Brook for 3 years before and after limestone treatment to mitigate low pH conditions caused by acid precipitation. Sampling was conducted during the spring, summer, and fall by both qualitative and quantitative methods. The fauna in Whetstone Brook in the control and treatment sections was dominated by chironomids (Diptera), simuliids (Diptera), Leuctra (Plecop-tera) and Hydropsyche (Trichoptera) in both pretreatment and treatment periods. The acid-sensitive mayfly genera Epeorus increased during liming in the treated section of the stream but also declined during the same period in the control section. Annelida increased during the treatment period in both sections of the stream. The chironomid and black fly populations were not affected by liming. The lack of impact to the black fly population was surprising because larvae are obligate filter-feeders and feed on suspended seston in the same size range as the limestone slurry that was used to treat Whetstone Brook. Treatment did not change species diversity and taxa richness in the treated section of Whetsone Brook, but both indices declined during the treatment period in the control section of Whetstone Brook. This decline was attributed to the poorer water quality of the untreated section of Whetstone Brook during the treatment period, which was due to higher-than-average precipitation. Percent community similarity analysis indicated that the community composition changed more in the treated section of Whetstone Brook than in the control section as a result of treatment. We conclude that the invertebrate fauna in the treated section of Whetstone Brook was not negatively affected by liming, but that population density and diversity did not increase.

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