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Date of Award



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Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Biology




"Hard rock mining for valuable minerals can have negative impacts on the environment, both through the deposition of mine waste and through direct, physical impacts. The Bunker Hill Mine and other mines in/around Kellogg, ID produced approximately one-fifth of the nation's lead and zinc and deposited over 100 million of cubic yards of contaminated slag, tailings and other mine wastes throughout the Coeur D'Alene (CDA) drainage. After the mines closed, the area was declared a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency and attention has focused on the human health consequences and environmental consequences of the contamination. In the current project, I investigated whether freshwater clams (Musculium spp.) could be appropriate bioindicators for monitoring water quality in the CDA drainage. In a field-caging assay along the polymetallic gradient in the drainage, clam survival was significantly higher in the unpolluted portion of the drainage (P < 0.001). Laboratory assays of clams exposed to ecologically-relevant doses of zinc and cadmium suggested that the doses administered were not toxicologically meaningful. In laboratory assays in which clams were exposed to metal-containing sediment from the drainage (mixed with play sand), sediment exposure significantly decreased the climbing activity of clams (P = 0.003) but not the burial activity (P < 0.09). Tissue metal concentrations in whole clams increased with fraction of contaminated sediment; more active bivalves tended to have higher tissue metal concentrations and lower survival. These field and laboratory experiments revealed that metal- contaminated sediments reduce the locomotive activity of freshwater clams, which can have significant consequences for survival. These results confirm that these species meet the requirements for bioindicators and could be developed into bioindicators for the CDA drainage"--Document.


Typescript. Vita.