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Title: Upland disturbance affects headwater stream nutrients and suspended sediments during baseflow and stormflow

Abstract

Because catchment characteristics determine sediment and nutrient inputs to streams, upland disturbance can affect stream chemistry. Catchments at the Fort Benning Military Installation (near Columbus, Georgia) experience a range of upland disturbance intensities due to spatial variability in the intensity of military training. We used this disturbance gradient to investigate the effects of upland soil and vegetation disturbance on stream chemistry. During baseflow, mean total suspended sediment (TSS) concentration and mean inorganic suspended sediment (ISS) concentration increased with catchment disturbance intensity (TSS: R 2 = 0.7, p = 0.005, range = 4.0-10.1 mg L-1; ISS: R 2 = 0.71, p = 0.004, range = 2.04-7.3 mg L-1); dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration (R 2 = 0.79, p = 0.001, range = 1.5-4.1 mg L-1) and soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) concentration (R 2 = 0.75, p = 0.008, range = 1.9-6.2 {micro}g L-1) decreased with increasing disturbance intensity; and ammonia (NH4 +), nitrate (NO3 -), and dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) concentrations were unrelated to disturbance intensity. The increase in TSS and ISS during storms was positively correlated with disturbance (R 2 = 0.78 and 0.78, p = 0.01 and 0.01, respectively); mean maximum change in SRP during storms increased with disturbancemore » (r = 0.7, p = 0.04); and mean maximum change in NO3 - during storms was marginally correlated with disturbance (r = 0.58, p = 0.06). Soil characteristics were significant predictors of baseflow DOC, SRP, and Ca2+, but were not correlated with suspended sediment fractions, any nitrogen species, or pH. Despite the largely intact riparian zones of these headwater streams, upland soil and vegetation disturbances had clear effects on stream chemistry during baseflow and stormflow conditions.« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. ORNL
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
Work for Others (WFO)
OSTI Identifier:
1003679
DOE Contract Number:
DE-AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Environmental Quality; Journal Volume: 35; Journal Issue: 1
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; AMMONIA; CARBON; CHEMISTRY; DISTURBANCES; NITRATES; NITROGEN; NUTRIENTS; PHOSPHORUS; PLANTS; SEDIMENTS; SOILS; STORMS; TRAINING

Citation Formats

Houser, Jeffrey N. Upland disturbance affects headwater stream nutrients and suspended sediments during baseflow and stormflow. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.2134/jeq2005.0102.
Houser, Jeffrey N. Upland disturbance affects headwater stream nutrients and suspended sediments during baseflow and stormflow. United States. doi:10.2134/jeq2005.0102.
Houser, Jeffrey N. Sun . "Upland disturbance affects headwater stream nutrients and suspended sediments during baseflow and stormflow". United States. doi:10.2134/jeq2005.0102.
@article{osti_1003679,
title = {Upland disturbance affects headwater stream nutrients and suspended sediments during baseflow and stormflow},
author = {Houser, Jeffrey N},
abstractNote = {Because catchment characteristics determine sediment and nutrient inputs to streams, upland disturbance can affect stream chemistry. Catchments at the Fort Benning Military Installation (near Columbus, Georgia) experience a range of upland disturbance intensities due to spatial variability in the intensity of military training. We used this disturbance gradient to investigate the effects of upland soil and vegetation disturbance on stream chemistry. During baseflow, mean total suspended sediment (TSS) concentration and mean inorganic suspended sediment (ISS) concentration increased with catchment disturbance intensity (TSS: R 2 = 0.7, p = 0.005, range = 4.0-10.1 mg L-1; ISS: R 2 = 0.71, p = 0.004, range = 2.04-7.3 mg L-1); dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration (R 2 = 0.79, p = 0.001, range = 1.5-4.1 mg L-1) and soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) concentration (R 2 = 0.75, p = 0.008, range = 1.9-6.2 {micro}g L-1) decreased with increasing disturbance intensity; and ammonia (NH4 +), nitrate (NO3 -), and dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) concentrations were unrelated to disturbance intensity. The increase in TSS and ISS during storms was positively correlated with disturbance (R 2 = 0.78 and 0.78, p = 0.01 and 0.01, respectively); mean maximum change in SRP during storms increased with disturbance (r = 0.7, p = 0.04); and mean maximum change in NO3 - during storms was marginally correlated with disturbance (r = 0.58, p = 0.06). Soil characteristics were significant predictors of baseflow DOC, SRP, and Ca2+, but were not correlated with suspended sediment fractions, any nitrogen species, or pH. Despite the largely intact riparian zones of these headwater streams, upland soil and vegetation disturbances had clear effects on stream chemistry during baseflow and stormflow conditions.},
doi = {10.2134/jeq2005.0102},
journal = {Journal of Environmental Quality},
number = 1,
volume = 35,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2006},
month = {Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2006}
}
  • Delivery of water, sediments, nutrients, and organic matter to stream ecosystems is strongly influenced by the catchment of the stream and can be altered greatly by upland soil and vegetation disturbance. At the Fort Benning Military Installation (near Columbus, Georgia), spatial variability in intensity of military training results in a wide range of intensities of upland disturbance in stream catchments. A set of 8 streams in catchments spanning this upland disturbance gradient was selected for investigation of the impact of disturbance intensity on hydrodynamics and nutrient uptake. The size of transient storage zones and rates of NH4+ uptake in allmore » study streams were among the lowest reported in the literature. Upland disturbance did not appear to influence stream hydrodynamics strongly, but it caused significant decreases in instream nutrient uptake. In October 2003, coarse woody debris (CWD) was added to of the study streams (spanning the disturbance gradient) in an attempt to increase hydrodynamic and structural complexity with the goals of enhancing biotic habitat and increasing nutrient uptake rates. CWD additions had positive short-term (within 1 mo) effects on hydrodynamic complexity (water velocity decreased and transient storage zone cross-sectional area, relative size of the transient storage zone, fraction of the median travel time attributable to transient storage over a standardized length of 200 m, and the hydraulic retention factor increased) and nutrient uptake (NH4+ uptake rates increased). Our results suggest that water quality in streams with intense upland disturbances can be improved by enhancing instream biotic nutrient uptake capacity through measures such as restoring stream CWD.« less
  • Catchment characteristics determine the inputs of sediments and nutrients to streams. As a result, natural or anthropogenic disturbance of upland soil and vegetation can affect instream processes. The Fort Benning Military Installation (near Columbus, Georgia) exhibits a wide range of upland disturbance levels because of spatial variability in the intensity of military training. This gradient of disturbance was used to investigate the effect of upland soil and vegetation disturbance on rates of stream metabolism (ecosystem respiration rate [ER] and gross primary production rate [GPP]). Stream metabolism was measured using an open-system, single-station approach. All streams were net heterotrophic during allmore » seasons. ER was highest in winter and spring and lowest in summer and autumn. ER was negatively correlated with catchment disturbance level in winter, spring, and summer, but not in autumn. ER was positively correlated with abundance of coarse woody debris, but not significantly related to % benthic organic matter. GPP was low in all streams and generally not significantly correlated with disturbance level. Our results suggest that the generally intact riparian zones of these streams were not sufficient to protect them from the effect of upland disturbance, and they emphasize the role of the entire catchment in determining stream structure and function.« less
  • Streambed sediments and the bryophyte community are sites of retention and processing of dissolved phosphorus (DP) in Bear Brook, an undisturbed headwater stream in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. Sorption of DP by sediments in an equilibrium phosphorus concentration for silty and sandy sediments was equal to the mean ambient DP concentration (2 micrograms P/liter). The buffering capacity of the sediments was at a maximum in the pH range characteristic of Bear Brook. Silty sediments had a higher phosphorus buffering capacity than sandy sediments, and leaf-leachate phosphorus was sorbed less than orthophosphate. Phosphorus sorption increased as sediment particle size decreasedmore » and as aluminum and organic matter content increased. The microbial community appears to be a relatively minor component of phosphorus buffering capacity in these sediments.« less
  • Regression models to predict baseflow alkalinity from basin hydrogeology were developed and verified for headwater streams on the Laurel Hill anticline in southwestern Pennsylvania. Predicted baseflow alkalinities were then used to estimate sensitivity to acidification and presence of trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) populations for 61 headwater streams. Sensitivity classifications were verified by surveying trout populations. Geologic variables relating to the carbonate rock burial depth, extent of carbonate rock recharge areas, and length of stream channel flowing through effluent carbonate rock outcrops were much more useful in predicting baseflow alkalinity than areal extent of carbonate rocks. Baseflow alkalinity was not well relatedmore » to status of trout populations on these anticlinal basins, especially on noneffluent basins on where bedrock dip exceeded surface slope.« less
  • Stream fish can regulate their environment through direct and indirect pathways, and the relative influence of communities with different taxonomic and functional richness on ecosystem properties likely depends on habitat structure. Given this complexity, it is not surprising that observational studies of how stream fish communities influence ecosystems have shown mixed results. In this study, we evaluated the effect of an observed gradient of taxonomic (zero, one, two or three species) and functional (zero, one or two groups) richness of fishes on several key ecosystem properties in experimental stream mesocosms. Our study simulated small (less than two metres wide) headwatermore » prairie streams with a succession of three pool-riffle structures (upstream, middle and downstream) per mesocosm. Additionally, ecosystem responses included chlorophyll a from floating algal mats and benthic algae, benthic organic matter, macroinvertebrates (all as mass per unit area), algal filament length and stream metabolism (photosynthesis and respiration rate). Ecosystem responses were analysed individually using general linear mixed models. Significant treatment (taxonomic and functional richness) by habitat (pools and riffles) interactions were found for all but one ecosystem response variable. After accounting for location (upstream, middle and downstream) effects, the presence of one or two grazers resulted in shorter mean algal filament lengths in pools compared to no-fish controls. These observations suggest grazers can maintain short algal filaments in pools, which may inhibit long filaments from reaching the surface. Accordingly, floating algal mats decreased in mid- and downstream locations in grazer treatment relative to no-fish controls. At the scale of the entire reach, gross primary productivity and respiration were greater in treatments with two grazer species compared to mixed grazer/insectivore or control treatments. Lastly, the distribution of stream resources across habitat types and locations within a reach can therefore be influenced by the taxonomic and functional composition of fishes in small prairie streams. Thus, disturbances that alter diversity of these systems might have unexpected ecosystem-level consequences.« less