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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Kimberly, Idaho » Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #269260

Title: Riparian shrub metal concentrations and growth in amended fluvial mine tailings

item MEIMAN, P.J. - Colorado State University
item DAVIS, N.R. - Us Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
item BRUMMER, J.E. - Colorado State University
item Ippolito, James

Submitted to: Water, Air, and Soil Pollution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/28/2011
Publication Date: 1/5/2012
Citation: Meiman, P., Davis, N., Brummer, J., Ippolito, J.A. 2012. Riparian shrub metal concentrations and growth in amended fluvial mine tailings. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution. 223(4):1815-1828.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Fluvial mine tailing deposition has caused extensive riparian damage throughout the western United States. Willows are often used for fluvial mine tailing revegetation, but some species accumulate excessive metal concentrations which could be detrimental to browsers. In a greenhouse experiment, growth and metal accumulation of Geyer willow, Drummond’s willow, diamondleaf willow, Bebb willow, thinleaf alder, water birch, red-osier dogwood, and shrubby cinquefoil were evaluated for potential revegetation use. Bare-root shrubs were grown in tailings collected from three acidic, metal-contaminated (i.e. cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc) fluvial deposits near Leadville, Colorado, USA. Tailings were amended with only lime to raise the soil pH to 7, or with lime and composted biosolids (100 tons/acre). All shrubs survived in the amended tailings; composted biosolids had little effect on plant biomass. Aboveground and belowground biomass increased during the 2 month greenhouse study by 3 – 9 and 1.5 – 5 times initial values, respectively. Most shrubs accumulated lead and copper in roots, and belowground lead concentrations in all shrubs were significantly reduced by the addition of composted biosolids. Compared to other species, alder and cinquefoil accumulated lead in aboveground growth and concentrations exceeded animal toxicity thresholds. Dogwood, alder, and cinquefoil contained low cadmium concentrations in aboveground new growth, whereas Bebb and Geyer willow contained zootoxic concentrations. Dogwood, alder, and cinquefoil are three good candidates for mine tailing revegetation, especially in fluvial deposits with elevated cadmium concentrations.