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Grantee Research Project Results

NCER Grantee Research Project Results

Riparian Forest Cover at Multiple Scales: Influences on Instream Habitat, Aquatic Assemblages, and Food Webs in Headwater Streams

EPA Grant Number: U915955
Title: Riparian Forest Cover at Multiple Scales: Influences on Instream Habitat, Aquatic Assemblages, and Food Webs in Headwater Streams
Investigators: England, Laura E.
Institution: University of Georgia
EPA Project Officer: Boddie, Georgette
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through January 1, 2003
Project Amount: $61,904
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2001)
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Aquatic Ecosystems , Fellowship - Aquatic Ecology and Ecosystems

Description:

Objective:

The objective of this research project is to assess instream habitat conditions, aquatic assemblages, and food webs in a set of headwater streams comprising a gradient in forest cover on multiple scales.

Approach:

Strong connectivity between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems means that landscape alterations have the potential to profoundly impact freshwaters. Effective management of riparian buffers to minimize these impacts requires identification of buffer attributes that most influence stream ecosystems. Network-scale riparian buffer width and continuity and watershed land cover were correlated with instream physical/chemical variables that were strong predictors of macroinvertebrate and fish assemblages. Results indicated that land cover ultimately influenced stream biota via changes in habitat quality. Stable isotope analyses of food webs suggested that reductions in forest cover on multiple scales led to a reduced dependence of headwater food webs on terrestrial organic matter subsidies. Thus, continuous and wide riparian forests along entire stream networks may be critical for sustaining stream ecosystems.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, terrestrial-aquatic linkages, deforestation, riparian buffers, watershed land use, multiple scales, geographic information systems, GIS, habitat alteration, biotic integrity, macroinvertebrates, fishes, stable isotopes, terrestrial subsidies, headwater streams, trout, southern Appalachians, stream habitat, stream ecosystem.

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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