Influence of Aldrich humic acid and metal precipitates on survivorship of mayflies (Atalophlebia spp.) to acid mine drainage Academic Article uri icon


  • Humic substances (HS) have been shown to decrease the toxicity of environmental stressors, but knowledge of their ability to influence the toxicity of multiple stressors such as metal mixtures and low pH associated with acid mine drainage (AMD) is still limited. The present study investigated the ability of HS to decrease toxicity of AMD to mayflies (Atalophlebia spp.). The AMD was collected from the Mount Morgan (Mount Morgan, Queensland, Australia) open pit. Mayflies were exposed to concentrations of AMD at 0%, 1%, 2%, 3%, and 4% in the presence of 0 mg/L, 10 mg/L, and 20 mg/L Aldrich humic acid (AHA). A U-shaped response was noted in all AHA treatments, with higher rates of mortality recorded in the 2% and 3% dilutions compared with 4%. This result was linked with increased precipitates in the lower concentrations. A follow-up trial showed significantly higher concentrations of precipitates in the 2% and 3% AMD dilutions in the 0 mg/L AHA treatment and higher precipitates in the 2% AMD, 10 mg/L and 20 mg/L AHA, treatments. Humic substances were shown to significantly increase survival of mayflies exposed to AMD by up to 50% in the 20 mg/L AHA treatment. Humic substances may have led to increased survival after AMD exposure through its ability to influence animal physiology and complex heavy metals. These results are valuable in understanding the ability of HS to influence the toxicity of multiple stressors.

publication date

  • 2014