Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015AR373B

Does environmental context mediate stream biological response to anthropogenic impacts?

Institute: Arkansas
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $2,250 Total Non-Federal Funds: $7,669

Principal Investigators: Sally Entrekin

Abstract: Arkansas streams contribute large amounts of drinking water to the citizens of central Arkansas, as well as support a diverse community of invertebrates, fish, and algae. These streams drain a variety of land uses that can alter the water quality of the stream. Specifically, energy extraction and agriculture are common catchment modifications and through habitat destruction, water withdrawal, and pollutant runoff can reduce diversity of fish, invertebrates, and algae. Some catchments are more sensitive to anthropogenic stressors than other watersheds. For example, slope type, slope and stream density, affect probability of sediment or contaminants entering receiving streams. Variation in catchment physiography might predict the magnitude of biological change following disturbances. If so, the catchment physical characteristics can be used by resource managers to prioritize development and restoration. Our previous research quantified 50% of Arkansas catchments in the Fayetteville Shale as sensitive (Hydraulic Unit Code 12) from naturally erosive soils and high stream density. Furthermore, 40% were ranked as highly exposed, mostly from agriculture (row crop+ pasture) and gas well activity. Our objective is to compare the rate of biological change (macroinvertebrates) in streams draining catchments with varying exposure levels in a suite of sensitive and less sensitive catchments.