US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 57: 380–390 (2000)


A biomonitoring technique was employed to complement studies of metal transport in the upper Sacramento River affected by acid mine drainage. Metals (Al, Cd, Cu, Fe, Hg, Pb, and Zn) were determined in a resident invertebrate, Hydropsyche californica (Insecta: Trichoptera), and streambed sediments (<62 μm) to assess metal contamination within a 111-km section of the river downstream of the mining area. Metals in H. californica also were interpreted to be broadly indicative of metal exposure in fish. Total Hg was determined in the whole body of the insect, whereas Al, Cd, Cu, Fe, Pb, and Zn were additionally separated into operationally defined cytosolic (used as an indicator of exposure to bioavailable metal) and particulate fractions. Total concentrations of Cd, Cu, Hg, Pb, and Zn in sediments were consistent with documented upstream sources of acid mine drainage. Metal distribution patterns in H. californica and sediments were generally consistent for Cd, Cu, and Pb but inconsistent for Hg and Zn. Concentrations in H. californica indicated that bioavailable Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn was transported at least 120 km downstream of the mine sources. Zinc in H. californica was elevated, but unlike sediments, did not decrease downstream. Mercury in H. californica was not elevated.