Limestone Remediation of an Acidic Stream Creates a Microchemical Batch Mark for Brook Trout within an Appalachian Watershed


The addition of limestone sand directly to streams is an effective method for treating chemical and biological issues associated with acid precipitation, a common concern in many Appalachian watersheds. The unique water chemistry created by limestone remediation potentially creates a “mark” in fish hard parts (e.g., otoliths and fin rays) that can be used to identify fish from remediated habitats, even after fish disperse into the surrounding riverscape. We tested whether elevated concentrations of calcium from a limestone-treated stream could be identified by microchemistry in the otoliths of Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis and whether the concentrations could distinguish fish among treated and untreated habitats within the upper Shavers Fork watershed in West Virginia. Calcium concentrations in water were similar between the treated headwater stream and the control stream. Multivariate ANOVA and Bonferroni post hoc analyses indicated that calcium and strontium concentrations were significantly higher in Brook Trout otoliths from the treatment stream than in those from the control stream. Our results suggest that hard-part microchemistry is a promising tool for identifying locally produced fish from limestone-remediated streams in the surrounding riverscape.



Document Type




Publication Date


Journal Title

North American Journal of Fisheries Management