Benthic Macroinvertebrate Community Temporal Dynamics and Their Response to Elevated Specific Conductance in Appalachian Coalfield Headwater Streams

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Virginia Tech. Powell River Project


Protecting integrity of benthic macroinvertebrate communities, which are used to assess stream condition in Appalachian coalfield headwater streams, is essential. Previous studies have suggested elevated total dissolved solids (TDS) and closely related specific conductance (SC) in streamwater have negative effects on sensitive benthic macroinvertebrates (Timpano 2011, Bernhardt et al. 2012, Cormier et al. 2013a, Cormier et al. 2013b), although effects varied based on selected metric, chosen effect level, and in some cases, potential influence of confounding water-quality- or physical-habitat conditions. Most importantly, previous studies have relied on point-in-time measurements of SC, which may not be representative of exposure levels in the days, weeks, or months prior to sampling of benthic macroinvertebrates.