The Effects of Mining Effluent on Amphibian Breeding Behavior and Survival
Mining is a great source of economic wealth in the state of Montana, and consequently, there are numerous mining sites. Along with the economic wealth, mining also brings an ecological concern. The purpose of this study was to determine whether amphibians select breeding sites where their larvae will have the best chance for survival. I tested for the association of pH, turbidity, and conductivity with the selection of breeding sites and the survivorship of the larvae. I determined that effluent from mine tailings caused a significant change in water chemistry. I also assessed water quality using macro-invertebrate numbers, which supported the finding of significant water quality differences between the mining effluent and non-effluent area. Water quality appeared to affect the survivorship of amphibian larvae. Survivorship was lower in sites influenced by mining effluent. However, the adult amphibians did not discriminate among ponds when laying their eggs. Therefore, if mining effluent is allowed to seep into a water source, it could be a danger to the amphibian population in the area. Because amphibians are often used as a biological indicator species, monitoring their population fluctuations is an important feature when dealing with mines and land management.