Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015AR369B

Creating an annual hydroecological dataset in forested Ozark streams

Institute: Arkansas
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,013

Principal Investigators: Michelle Evans-White, Douglas Leasure, Daniel Magoulick

Abstract: The Arkansas Natural Resources Council is in the process of updating the state water plan. The current state water plan was conceived with little data on flow-ecology relationships that can provide more accurate estimates of the water resources needed to maintain the biological integrity and ecosystem function of state waters. Future state water plans will benefit from studies examining how hydrology and landscape changes influence Arkansas stream biota and ecosystem processes. Assessing and predicting ecological alteration is an important management strategy as streams continue to be impacted by the conversion of forested land to agricultural and urban areas. Relating environmental factors such as flow regime with ecological processes provide a decision-making tool to support water management. We must first examine the extent of variation in ecosystem function explained by flow classification within reference forested streams before we can examine the effect of land use change in these systems. Therefore, we propose to examine flow-ecosystem function relationships within two predominant flow classes (runoff flashy and groundwater flashy) in forested Ozark streams that can be used in future projects as a basis to compare stream function in altered landscapes within these flow regimes. While others have examined daily metabolism in Ozark streams, these studies were short in duration, likely missing patterns or variation in metabolism that would be useful in characterizing natural Ozark stream function. The proposed study would collect continuous metabolism data over one year in streams with groundwater flashy and runoff flashy flow regimes; this would be the first data set of its kind to our knowledge. By establishing reference conditions, our research would be a first step towards examining how hydrology and landscape changes can influence Arkansas stream ecosystem processes.