Mining in the Upper Arkansas catchment has polluted the river with heavy metals for 140 yr. Pupal and adult chironomid species distribution and sedimentary metal concentrations are provided for 22 stations along 259 km of main river during 1984–85. Complete species identification was achieved only recently. This has produced an unprecedented record of chironomid species distribution for a comparable length of river in the USA. Chemically or physically perturbed sites had poor species richness compared with the next site downstream, suggesting that larvae may drift through unfavorable habitats to benign ones. Using canonical correspondence analysis, we found species composition to be most strongly related to variables expressing the longitudinal axis of the river (distance/altitude, temperature, latitude), while toxicity to zinc was a significant secondary correlate. These river-related environmental variables accounted for a greater proportion of pupal species variation than for adults. This was considered to result from a proportion of adults emerging from habitats beyond the main river. Multivariate analysis identified metal-tolerant and -intolerant species. Generic data revealed the same major trends but indicator taxa were lost. The study provides a disturbed-state reference for monitoring effects of remedial actions begun in 1991, and for comparisons with other Colorado rivers.
Ruse, L. P.; Herrmann, Scott J.; and Sublette, J. E.
"Chironomidae (Diptera) species distribution related to environmental characteristics of the metal-polluted Arkasas River, Colorado,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 60:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol60/iss1/4