Using an Index of Biotic Integrity to Assess Gold Mine Impacts on Streams

A fish community index of biotic integrity (IBI) was used to compare 6 streams with minor anthropogenic impacts to 3 streams receiving source and non-point source effluents from gold mine operations in the Piedmont of South Carolina. IBI ratings for streams receiving gold mine effluent ranged from very poor to marginally fair, whereas those for the remaining 6 streams ranged from fair to good. The stream selected as a “candidate” reference stream rated consistently good, establishing a potential baseline for attainable conditions for the ecoregion. The IBI supplied biological data that were useful in identifying perturbations based on alterations occurring in fish communities. The results of this study suggest the IBI could be an excellent tool for monitoring the biological components of streams in the Piedmont ecosystem.

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