Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Colonization of mine tailings by marine invertebrates

Published source details

Kline E.R. & Stekoll M.S. (2001) Colonization of mine tailings by marine invertebrates. Marine Environmental Research, 51, 301-325


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Leave mining waste (tailings) in place following cessation of disposal operations Subtidal Benthic Invertebrate Conservation

A replicated, paired, controlled, pilot study in 1994–1996 of 90 plots of soft seabed in Auke Bay, Alaska, USA (Kline & Stekoll 2001) found that leaving mine tailings on the seabed after ceasing disposal operations, or removing them, led to similar changes in invertebrate community composition, abundance, biomass and species richness, but either way remained different to nearby natural communities, after 22 months. After 22 months, invertebrate community compositions were similar in plots with and without tailings but remained different to plots of natural sediment (data presented as graphical analyses). Plots with and without tailings had similar invertebrate abundance (with: 900 vs without: 1,050 individuals/tray), biomass (370 vs 380 mg/tray), and species richness (50 vs 48 species/tray). Plots with and without tailings had similar abundances to the natural plot (natural plot abundance: 920 individuals/tray), but their biomasses were higher (natural plot biomass: 150 mg/tray,) and richness were lower (natural plot species richness: 40 species/tray). In 1994, 48 plastic trays (as experimental plots, 8 cm deep, 15 cm diameter) were filled with either tailings or sediments without invertebrates (to mimic removal of tailings) and deployed in pairs by divers at 21 m depth in a circular arrangement (30 m diameter). After 9, 17, and 22 months, 10 trays/treatment were recovered (in total: 30 of the 48 trays), and 10 plots of nearby natural sediment were sampled using a tray as a corer. Invertebrates (>500 µm) were identified, counted, and dry-weighed.