US Geological Survey


Ecological effects of lead mining on Ozark streams: In-situ toxicity to woodland crayfish (Orconectes hylas)

Ann L. Allert, United States Geological Survey
James F. Fairchild, United States Geological Survey
R. J. DiStefano, Missouri Department of Conservation, Central Regional Office and Conservation Research Center
C. J. Schmitt, USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center
William G. Brumbaugh, United States Geological Survey
J.M. Besser, United States Geological Survey

Document Type Article

US govt work


The Viburnum Trend mining district in southeast Missouri, USA is one of the largest producers of lead–zinc ore in the world. Previous stream surveys found evidence of increased metal exposure and reduced population densities of crayfish immediately downstream of mining sites.We conducted an insitu 28-d exposure to assess toxicity of mining-derived metals to the woodland crayfish (Orconectes hylas). Crayfish survival and biomass were significantly lower at mining sites than at reference and downstream sites. Metal concentrations in water, detritus, macroinvertebrates, fish, and crayfish were significantly higher at mining sites, and were negatively correlated with caged crayfish survival. These results support previous field and laboratory studies that showed mining-derived metals negatively affect O. hylas populations in streams draining the Viburnum Trend, and that in-situ toxicity testing was a valuable tool for assessing the impacts of mining on crayfish populations.