Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Donald Tarter

Second Advisor

Dr. Thomas Pauley

Third Advisor

Dr. Dean Adkins


Downstream impacts of contour surface mining and valley fill construction were evaluated utilizing both water chemistry and EPA approved Rapid Bioassessment Protocol III. Wiley Branch was sampled in February of 1999 before mining perturbation. Five downstream stations were established with benthic macroinvertebrates and water samples collected seasonally for a period of sixteen months. Water chemistry parameters, pH, total aluminum, iron, and manganese, total suspended solids, total dissolved solids, sulfates, alkalinity, acidity and specific conductivity fluctuated but generally remained within acceptable governmental limits. Initially, benthic macroinvertebrate communities were well balanced within the stream. There was a high abundance of EPT individuals compared to Chironomidae. No population showed high levels of dominance and the Hilsenhoff Biotic Index (HBI) was 3.3. Shredders were more abundant at the upstream stations while filterer/collectors and grazer/scrapers were more abundant at downstream stations. During mining, taxa richness and the EPT index generally increased; however, the percent EPT decreased while the percent Chironomidae increased. Family dominance and the HBI also increased. The percentage of shredders decreased at the upstream stations but increased slightly at the downstream stations. Percent filterer/collectors increased at the upstream stations but decreased at the downstream stations, while grazer/scrapers populations decreased at all mainstream stations. Utilizing the West Virginia Stream Condition Index, Wiley Branch was considered highly comparable to reference conditions before mining. After mining began, the stream became increasing different from reference conditions.


Water quality biological assessment.

Benthic Animals -- Habitat.

Strip mining -- environmental aspects.