Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Division of Forestry and Natural Resources

Committee Chair

J. Todd Petty

Committee Member

Eric Merriam

Committee Member

Nicolas Zégre


As the body of literature supporting watershed-scale restoration projects continues to grow, there is need for a greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms that drive it. With data spanning ten years capturing pre- and post-restoration benthic macroinvertebrate communities in two distinct watersheds of West Virginia, we seek to contribute to the developing pool of knowledge regarding these dynamics. Sites were laid out prior to remediation in such a manner as to capture the spectrum of water quality conditions present, these are divided into three treatment types: reference, treated, and abandoned mine drainage (AMD). Our objectives were to: 1) determine if previously documented trends of improvement persisted into 2018, 2) explore specific impacts on community structure, and 3) determine if distance to remediation impacted degree of recovery. We hypothesized that: 1) previously measured improvements would continue, 2) watershed-wide communities would exhibit less variation over time as they grew more similar overall to reference quality, and 3) that sites situated farther from active treatment locations would exhibit greater degrees of recovery. In order to provide meaningful and holistic interpretations of the community data collected, we analyzed how site distance from active treatment dosers impacts scores from indices of biotic integrity as well as Bray-Curtis distance coefficients on community similarity. We found that the previously documented recovery was still in evidence, however at a much lesser rate. Contrary to our other hypotheses, watershed-wide communities became generally more diverse over time; and distance to treatment yielded opposite trends in recovery between our two watersheds.