Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017NH210B

Hot and Salty: Assessing ecological stress in New Hampshire streams at community, population, and molecular levels

Institute: New Hampshire
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $13,365 Total Non-Federal Funds: $33,393

Principal Investigators: Amy Villamagna

Abstract: This project is designed to assess the impacts of highway and road maintenance as well as land use, urban development and storm water runoff on surface water quality and freshwater biota. We focus on the effects of chloride and stream temperature on stream biota, using benthic macroinvertebrates as bio-indicators of ecological stress. Overtime the use of chloride salt control products for winter conditions (i.e. deicers) has caused growing concern over environmental impacts to nearby ecosystems, with gradual increases in overall salinity becoming present over extended periods of time. This trend holds potential negative consequences for freshwater resources and ecosystems throughout NH and the U.S. The project proposed herein is a continuation of a NH WRRC-funded study from 2016-2017. We are proposing a multi-level approach to evaluate ecological stress in New Hampshire streams at the community, population, and molecular levels. Focusing on macroinvertebrates as eco-indicators, this project has five main components: 1) field sampling of macroinvertebrates to provide community and population metrics of ecological response, 2) laboratory based stress experiments to determine heat shoke protein (HSP) induction thresholds for thermal-salt stress in two mayfly genera, 3) field sampling and HSP expression assays of mayfly nymphs from streams that span a thermal and salt gradient to determine the utility of HSPs as biomarkers of stress in wild populations of mayflies, 4) continuous monitoring of conductivity, water level, temperature (stream and air), and 5) snapshot water chemistry (anion and cation) sampling to coincide with macroinvertebrate sampling.