As we reported in today’s Gazette, there’s a significant new study out about mountaintop removal’s impact on fish in Appalachian streams:
Appalachian streams affected by mountaintop removal coal mining can have fewer than half as many fish species and a third as many total fish as other regional waterways, according to a new study published this week by researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Using data from several time periods to track changes in fish diversity and abundance in West Virginia’s Guyandotte River basin, USGS experts observed persistent effects of mountaintop removal associated with water quality degradation and found no evidence that fish communities recovered over time.
Nathanial Hitt, a USGS research fish biologist and lead author of the paper, said:
The Appalachian Mountains are a global hotspot for freshwater fish diversity,. Our paper provides some of the first peer-reviewed research to understand how fish communities respond to mountaintop mining in these biologically diverse headwater streams.