Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type



Life & Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Grant Hokit

Second Advisor

Marilyn Schendel

Third Advisor

Murphy Fox


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.