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New Mexico Water Science Center Publication Abstracts

METAL ACCUMULATION BY TRANSPLANTED AQUATIC MOSSES IN RESPONSE TO LAND-USE PRACTICES IN THE UPPER RIO GRANDE BASIN, COLORADO AND NEW MEXICO

Lisa F. Carter, U.S. Geological Survey, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
Stephen D. Porter, U.S. Geological Survey, Lakewood, Colorado 80225
S. Mark Nelson, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Lakewood, Colorado 80225

Concentrations of 12 trace elements accumulated by transplanted aquatic mosses (Hygrohypnum ochraceum) were determined in the Rio Grande and tributary streams in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico as part of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. The purpose of the study was to investigate relations between tissue concentrations of metals in mosses and land uses (mining, agriculture, and urban) in the basin and to compare element-specific rates of bioaccumulation. Concentrations of Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn were significantly larger at sites proximate to historical mining areas than at those affected by agricultural or urban activities. Concentrations of As, Mn, and Mo were similar in streams affected by agriculture and mining. Average concentrations of most metals were smaller in a tributary stream affected by point and nonpoint urban sources. Moss concentrations of As, Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn were correlated with streambed-sediment levels. Following a 60-day exposure, concentrations of Ag, Cd, Cu, Mn, and Zn in moss samples exceeded those in streambed-sediment samples, whereas sediment concentrations of Al, Fe, and Pb were larger than those in mosses. Rates of bioaccumulation were related to the magnitude of ambient metal concentrations, with maximal uptake occurring during the first 10 days of exposure. Results from this study indicate that transplanted mosses are excellent indicators of the sources and biological effects of metals in aquatic systems, particularly when concentrations are small (or below detection) in water and sediment samples.

Citation: Carter, L.F., Porter, S.D., and Nelson, S.M., 1995, Metal accumulation by transplanted aquatic mosses in response to land-use practices in the upper Rio Grande Basin, Colorado and New Mexico, Abs. Bulletin of the North American Benthological Society, Vol. 12, No. 1, p. 159.

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