Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Martin F. Quigley, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Shannon Murphy

Third Advisor

Anna Sher

Fourth Advisor

Brian J. Majestic


Acid mine drainage, Colorado, Metal contamination, Phytoremediation, Salix, Willows


Abandoned hardrock mines and the resulting Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) are a source of vast, environmental degradation that are toxic threats to plants, animals, and humans. Cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) are metal contaminants often found in AMD. In my mine outwash water samples, cadmium and lead concentrations were 19 and 160 times greater than concentrations in control waterways, and 300 and 40 times greater than EPA Aquatic Life Use water quality standards, respectively. I tested the phytoremediation characteristics of three montane willows native to the Rocky Mountains: Salix drummondiana, S. monticola, and S. planifolia. I tested the willows’ accumulation and tolerance characteristics of cadmium and lead contamination. I found that S. drummondiana accumulated more cadmium in stems than both S. monticola and S. planifolia, and that all three willow species accumulated similar concentrations of lead. I found similar trends for leaf accumulation. I also found that S. monticola had a greater growth and tolerance to the lower lead concentrations than high lead concentrations in addition to containing higher field stem concentrations of lead than S. planifolia. Salix planifolia contained nearly 2.5 times greater concentrations of cadmium in field stems than S. drummondiana. Based on my results, S. drummondiana could aid in aboveground accumulation of cadmium polluted watersheds, and S. monticola could aid in aboveground accumulation and tolerance of lead pollution.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Gordon J. Kersten

File size

71 p.

File format