The Central Stoneroller, Campostoma Anomalum, as an Indicator of Heavy Metal Contamination Using Otolith Age Determination and Growth Analysis

Date of Graduation

Summer 1996


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

John Havel


Campostoma anomalum, a common minnow found in streams throughout the eastern U.S., was investigated as a potential bioindicator for heavy metal pollution. This species is a benthic algivore and detritivore that is exposed to heavy metals that accumulate in the sediment. It was hypothesized that young-of-the-year stonerollers from an impacted site would exhibit a reduced growth rate compared to those from an upstream reference site. A lab experiment revealed that alizarin red S will impart a violet-red mark in stoneroller otoliths that can be viewed with a compound light microscope. Using that dye, a second experiment validated the formation of daily increments in stonerollers provided different food rations. Sedentary behavior in post-larval and juvenile stonerollers was supported by a mark/recapture study that indicated their home range was 54.4 m ± 40.4 m. Sediment samples from a site adjacent to an abandoned landfill near Springfield, Missouri exhibited significantly higher levels of lead and zinc relative to a reference site immediately upstream from the landfill. The growth rate of juvenile stonerollers collected at the contaminated site, determined by regressing standard length on age in days, was significantly lower than those collected from the reference site. In addition, a significantly higher incidence of gross fin anomalies was observed at three landfill sites compared to two reference sites. Observed anomalies included malformed, extra, mis-located, and missing fins similiar to those reported from other sites contaminated by heavy metals. The observed growth effects, in combination with the observed anomalies, indicate that pollutants from the landfill may be negatively impacting stonerollers. This study demonstrated that stonerollers and the described techniques may be used to monitor streams for negative impacts from pollutants, including heavy metals.

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© Robert G Schulz