GCC Team Awarded NSF Grant to Study Salinization from Mining in Headwater Streams

Headwater stream in Appalachian Mountains

Dr. Stephen Schoenholtz is part of a Global Change Center (GCC) team to receive a grant from the National Science Foundation! The $700,000 grant is to investigate how changes in salinity from surface mining could impact aquatic food webs in the Appalachian Mountains.

Example of surface mining in the southwest Virginia region where team will conduct studies.

Excerpt from CGG article written by James Mason:

“Headwater streams, which comprise 70% of all watersheds, are becoming more and more contaminated by salt. The seemingly innocuous compound is making its way into the streams and groundwater as a result of agriculture, mining, urbanization and wastewater discharge, leading to headwaters becoming more and more salty. This phenomenon, known as salinization, has been slowly changing the composition of the freshwater streams, and is having a detrimental effect on the resident microbes and animals which inhabit those waters. Changes to these ecosystems can alter the entire freshwater food web, which can have devastating effects on many species and less known large-scale environmental impacts. 

The Appalachian region of the United States is home to extremely high biodiversity and many vulnerable headwater streams making it an urgent need to understand how increased freshwater salinization affects food webs in these environments. Sally Entrekin, associate professor in the Department of Entomology, professor Stephen Schoenholtz and associate professor Daniel McLaughlin from the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, associate professor Erin Hotchkiss from the Department of Biological Sciences, and Carl Zipper, professor emeritus from the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, have recently been awarded a $700,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to investigate how changes in salinity from mining could impact aquatic food webs.”

Read complete article HERE.

Comments are closed.