Potential adverse ecological effects of expanded uranium (U) mining within the Grand Canyon region motivated studies to better understand U exposure and risk to endemic species. This study documents U exposures and analyzes geochemical and biological factors affecting U bioaccumulation at spring-fed systems within the Grand Canyon region. The principal objective was to determine if aqueous U was broadly indicative of U accumulated by insect larvae, a dominate fauna. Analyses focused on three widely distributed taxa: Argia sp. (a predatory damselfly), Culicidae (suspension feeding mosquitos), and Limnephilus sp. (a detritivorous caddisfly). The study showed that U accumulated by aquatic insects (and periphyton) generally correlated positively with total dissolved U, although correlations were strongest when based on modeled concentrations of the U-dicarbonato complex, UO2(CO3)2–2, and UO2(OH)2. Sediment metal concentration was a redundant indicator of U bioaccumulation. Neither insect size or U in the gut content of Limnephilus sp. substantially affected correlations between aqueous U and whole-body U concentrations. However, in Limnephilus sp., the gut and its content contained large quantities of U. Estimates of the sediment burden in the gut indicated that sediment was a minor source of U mass but contributed substantially to the total insect weight. As a result, whole-body U concentration would tend to vary inversely with the sediment burden of the gut. The correlations between aqueous U and bioaccumulated U provide an initial relational baseline against which newly acquired data could be evaluated for changes in U exposure during and after mining operations.
|Title||Aquatic insect accumulation of uranium at spring outflows in the Grand Canyon region as influenced by aqueous and sediment geochemistry and biological factors: Implications for monitoring|
|Authors||Daniel J. Cain, Marie-Noële Croteau, Christopher C. Fuller, David Barasch, Kimberly R. Beisner, Kate M. Campbell, Deborah Stoliker, Edward J. Schenk|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Environmental Monitoring and Assessment|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center|