Researchers say WV fish population down from mountaintop mining - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Researchers say WV fish population down from mountaintop mining

Posted: Updated:
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Organizers prepare for the 24th annual Chili Night in Uptown Beckley

    Organizers prepare for the 24th annual Chili Night in Uptown Beckley

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:34 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:34:46 GMT
    The 24th annual Chili Night in Uptown Beckley is quickly approaching. It's a time for local eateries to cook up their best batch of the hearty meal. The competition involves more than 40 participants, three stages of entertainment, vendors, ride and slide activities for kids and more.
    The 24th annual Chili Night in Uptown Beckley is quickly approaching. It's a time for local eateries to cook up their best batch of the hearty meal. The competition involves more than 40 participants, three stages of entertainment, vendors, ride and slide activities for kids and more.
  • Is the iCloud secure? After a celebrity leak, What You can do to Make sure your Information is Safe

    Is the iCloud secure? After a celebrity leak, What You can do to Make sure your Information is Safe

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:33 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:33:47 GMT
    We wanted to know just what you can do to make sure your information isn't leaked. Although there's many benefits to "cloud" services, authorities now caution against keeping your private information online.
    We wanted to know just what you can do to make sure your information isn't leaked. Although there's many benefits to "cloud" services, authorities now caution against keeping your private information online.
  • Soon all police will be wearing body cameras

    Soon all police will be wearing body cameras

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 6:37 PM EDT2014-09-02 22:37:42 GMT
    A nationwide debate is taking place after an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri .Ferguson cops were given body cameras by two companies after allegations have been made against protesters, who are outraged by the shooting.Soon police around the country could be wearing body cameras.
    A nationwide debate is taking place after an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri .Ferguson cops were given body cameras by two companies after allegations have been made against protesters, who are outraged by the shooting.Soon police around the country could be wearing body cameras.
  • EnergyEnergyMore>>

  • UPDATE: WV leaders applaud possible energy company expansion

    UPDATE: WV leaders applaud possible energy company expansion

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:05 AM EDT2014-09-02 15:05:44 GMT
    House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, said the announcement of four major energy companies partnering to build a proposed natural gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline is another step toward expanding West Virginia's economy.
    House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, said the announcement of four major energy companies partnering to build a proposed natural gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline is another step toward expanding West Virginia's economy.
  • WV Wilderness group fights against gas companies over pipeline in Pocahontas County

    WV Wilderness group fights against gas companies over pipeline in Pocahontas County

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 10:40 AM EDT2014-09-02 14:40:53 GMT
    The West Virginia Wilderness group has been fighting three gas companies for months, who want to put a pipeline in Pocahontas County .Lauren Ragland is the founder of West Virginia Wilderness and said the pipeline does not belong in Pocahontas County.
    The West Virginia Wilderness group has been fighting three gas companies for months, who want to put a pipeline in Pocahontas County .Lauren Ragland is the founder of West Virginia Wilderness and said the pipeline does not belong in Pocahontas County.
  • Dominion, Duke to build $5B natural gas pipeline

    Dominion, Duke to build $5B natural gas pipeline

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 9:20 AM EDT2014-09-02 13:20:59 GMT
    Dominion Resources, Duke Energy and other partners have proposed building a $5 billion natural gas pipeline to connect the Southeast with the prodigious supplies of natural gas being produced in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
    Dominion Resources, Duke Energy and other partners have proposed building a $5 billion natural gas pipeline to connect the Southeast with the prodigious supplies of natural gas being produced in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

According to new research conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, Appalachian streams impacted by mountaintop mining have less than half as many fish species in them.

Mountaintop mining is a type of surface mining used to extract coal in Appalachia by moving surface layers of soil and rock into adjacent valleys, creating “valley fills.”

According to a press release from USGS, researchers used data from several time periods to track changes in fish diversity and abundance in the Guyandotte River basin which spans from Huntington to the lower part of the Mountain State. The research has showed there are about a third as many fish than in non-impacted streams.

“The Appalachian Mountains are a global hotspot for freshwater fish diversity,” said Nathaniel Hitt, a USGS research fish biologist and lead author of the study. “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.”

Original fish data collected by a team from Pennsylvania State University between 1999-2001, and USGS collected additional data from 2010-2011.

Read the entire study HERE.

Hitt, along with USGS biologist and co-author Douglas Chambers, found no evidence fish communities have recovered over time, and instead observed persistent effects of mountaintop mining associated with water quality degradation.

Prior research has linked water quality deterioration from mountaintop mining to the degradation of stream insect communities. The new USGS paper is the first to evaluate this issue for stream fish communities.

“Our results indicate that headwater mining may be limiting fish communities by restricting the prey base available for fish,” said Hitt. “For instance, fish species with specialized diets of stream insects were more likely to be lost from the streams over time than fish species with more diverse diets.”

Results of the new study indicated that water quality was generally more important than physical habitat for the observed fish community changes. The authors found elevated selenium and conductivity levels where fish community degradation was observed but saw no significant differences in physical habitat availability.