Landscape change in the Big Sioux watershed and its effect on diversityEPA Grant Number: U915623
Title: Landscape change in the Big Sioux watershed and its effect on diversity
Investigators: Ostrander, Madeline V.
Institution: University of Wisconsin Madison
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: January 1, 1999 through July 17, 2000
Project Amount: $34,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Geography , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Academic Fellowships
The objectives of this research project are to: (1) investigate landscape change in the Big Sioux watershed in eastern South Dakota and how this change may have brought about the observable plant species declines in the riparian forest; (2) construct a vegetation history for the region; and (3) underscore some possibilities for riparian community restoration in the Flandreau (Moody County) area.
Through the use of one of several potential methods, I will document some of the factors leading to riparian species declines in the Big Sioux River. Some of the data may be necessarily historical and archival—land use records kept by county offices, records of channel modification maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, tribal information on area farming practices, and/or historical records of the region's flora. Other data may be quantitative—through geographic information systems—of early and current aerial photo data to determine changes in land use and forest cover. This information will be used to construct a picture of the original ecosystem and form a hypothesis as to where the most intact representatives of the original forest may lie, and what changes in landscape and land use have affected the plant community. This hypothesis may then be tested with "on the ground" sampling of plant communities.
The information gained will be important in a variety of settings. In the academic community, it will help to further elucidate what factors most impact on riparian forests. It will provide the tribe with the tools to predict where seed for culturally valuable species can be collected, what factors are affecting the plant communities in their area, and how these communities may be restored. Through this research project, I will gain a very deep and integrated understanding of a watershed, what factors affect its ecology, and how it may be better managed in the future.