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 following.

Action Category

Leave mining waste (tailings) in place following cessation of disposal operations

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

    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.

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 19

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust