Influences of Watershed Land Use on Stream Ecosystem Structure and FunctionEPA Grant Number: R824777
Title: Influences of Watershed Land Use on Stream Ecosystem Structure and Function
Investigators: Meyer, Judith L. , Couch, Carol
Institution: University of Georgia , United States Geological Survey [USGS]
Current Institution: University of Georgia
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: November 1, 1995 through November 1, 1998
Project Amount: $500,000
RFA: Water and Watersheds (1995) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water and Watersheds , Water
Description:The structural and functional attributes of stream ecosystems are impacted by a range of human disturbances. Existing programs that assess water quality focus on measuring structural aspects of aquatic ecosystems such as concentrations of elements and biotic indices. How these structural attributes are related to ecosystem function is not well understood for riverine ecosystems. This project will provide a much-needed comparison of stream ecosystem function (rates of community metabolism and cycling of carbon and nutrients) with traditional chemistry-based water quality assessment and organism-based bioassessment. The project will also determine how differing patterns of land-use in the watershed alter stream ecosystem function.
Project research sites are eight streams, two streams draining watersheds in each of four land-use categories (forest, agriculture, urban, suburban); all are tributaries of the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta, GA. These watersheds experience differing degrees of cumulative non-point source nutrient enrichment and episodic inputs of toxins. They comprise a gradient of watershed disturbances that are representative of the current American landscape. Measures of stream ecosystem function will be compared with analyses of hydrology, water quality and biological community structure currently being collected by the U.S. Geological Survey.
The project results will be useful to managers concerned with non-point source pollution control in urban and suburban settings and will also be a significant contribution to the development of better indicators of stream ecosystem health.