Modeling Effects of Alternative Landscape Design and Management on Water Quality and Biodiversity in Midwest Agricultural Watersheds

EPA Grant Number: R825335
Title: Modeling Effects of Alternative Landscape Design and Management on Water Quality and Biodiversity in Midwest Agricultural Watersheds
Investigators: Santelmann, Mary , White, David C , Danielson, Brent J , Matzke, G. , Eilers, J. , Bernert, J. , Nassauer, J. , Freemark, K. , Galatowitsch, S. , Polasky, Stephen
Current Investigators: Santelmann, Mary
Institution: Oregon State University , E and S Environmental Chemistry Inc. , University of Minnesota - Twin Cities , Iowa State University
Current Institution: Oregon State University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: January 1, 1997 through December 31, 1999 (Extended to December 31, 2000)
Project Amount: $1,228,521
RFA: Water and Watersheds Research (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water and Watersheds , Water


Degradation in water quality and declines in native biodiversity in farmland demonstrate the need for the multidisciplinary approach employed by this study. The research objective is to use a multidisciplinary approach to integrate the following components into a watershed-level assessment of ecological and human resources: 1) development and evaluation of alternative future land-use scenarios for agricultural watersheds, farm planning; 2) modeling of biodiversity (aquatic organisms, terrestrial vertebrates, wetland plants); and 3) development of water quality models for watersheds, modeling of water quality.

Ecological and socioeconomic impact of human land use and management decisions will be analyzed for six agricultural watersheds in Iowa, comparing the present landscape and three designed alternative visions of these same watersheds 25 years in the future. Data bases exist on land cover, aquatic chemistry, and avian biodiversity of these watersheds as a result of the US-EPA/USDA Midwest Agricultural Surface/Subsurface Transports and Effects Research (MASTER) program. This research builds on the MASTER program, incorporating modeling approaches used elsewhere to evaluate risks to vertebrate biodiversity.

Parallel modeling approaches (multispecies and demographic models) will cross-validate and evaluate terrestrial vertebrate biodiversity model results. For evaluating the effects of alternative wetland preservation/restoration strategies, new models will be developed from existing data bases in Iowa and southern Minnesota. Models for assessment and evaluation of water quality will be developed for the study watersheds. Alternative future landscape scenarios will be designed to represent three different sets of human land-use management priorities: 1) a continuation of present trends, with land-use reflecting market-driven farming practices and existing regulations or deregulation; 2) an effort to preserve biodiversity and improve water quality using conventional methods, within the existing regulatory framework; and 3) incorporating a higher priority on preservation or restoration of native biodiversity coupled with efforts to improve water quality. Alternative futures will be evaluated and compared in terms of relative impacts on biodiversity and water quality using models developed for the present landscape. The farm planning exercise will incorporate input from local farmers and decision-makers and explore how human attitudes and practical and economic constraints are translated into land-use and management decisions, and the spatial implications of these decisions at the watershed level. The significance of this research lies in its ability to inform land owners and policy-makers (for example, those crafting Farm Bill 2000) of effects of land-use and management choices on water resources, ecosystem function and human social systems in the Western Corn Belt Region.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 23 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 7 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

watershed, terrestrial, biodiversity, wetland, public policy, modeling, midwest, agriculture, Iowa, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Midwest, Water & Watershed, exploratory research environmental biology, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Chemical Mixtures - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecosystem Protection, Economics, Monitoring/Modeling, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecological Effects - Human Health, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Watersheds, Ecological Indicators, ecological exposure, risk assessment, aquatic, water resources, Iowa, biodiversity, alternative urbanization scenarios, landscape units, predictive understanding, soil sediment, valuation of watersheds, ecological modeling, agricultural watershed, runoff, sediment transport, terrestrial ecosystems, modeling, agricultural watersheds, availability of water resources, biota diversity, transport models, water quality, alternative landscape design, aquatic ecosystems, lawn care practices, IA, species habitat matrices, design criteria, ecology assessment models, water management options, aquatic biota, forecasting, land use

Relevant Websites:

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1997
  • 1998 Progress Report
  • 1999 Progress Report
  • Final Report