The Correlation Between Mine Proximity and Macroinvertebrate Abundance
Before gold was discovered in the 1860’s, Montana had a relatively small population. This would quickly change with a steady influx of miners over the next several decades. Men staked hundreds of claims around the state and in some areas every drainage basin saw prospectors. The mining processes left behind large piles of mine tailings and exposed rock which in turn led to both soil and water contamination. I studied the effect of mining contamination on benthic macroinvertebrates. This entailed sampling streams throughout central Montana and looking for a correlation between macroinvertebrate abundance and mine proximity. I found a significant relationship between Ephemeroptera (mayfly) abundance and the number of mines less than one kilometer from the sample site. This indicated a negative environmental impact from the historic mining sites present around the state.