The study found that aquatic life actually shows significant loss of biodiversity with less than two percent of developed land in a watershed. This is much less that what a decade-old analysis widely cited by environmental policymakers suggests that it takes up to 15 percent of solid surfaces like roads or parking lots, or 20 to 30 percent developed land in a given area before local water systems no longer sustain normal aquatic life.
“The findings are alarming and imply that water quality in streams is degraded rapidly with relatively low levels of development, which clearly has significant implications to the organisms that live in these streams,” said study co-author Dr. Ryan King, associate professor of biology at Baylor. “Perhaps of even greater concern is that the decline of stream-dwelling animals implies that there is chemical pollution that could also be detrimental to human health via groundwater and downstream drinking water supplies. It is unlikely that it's just the rapid runoff of water from the impervious cover that is causing the loss of biodiversity, but more likely that chemical pollution is also responsible.”
The researchers used samples from about 2,000 streams around Maryland and compared satellite imagery and land cover datasets to analyze how the water ecosystem and biodiversity responded to various levels of impervious cover, which are areas where infiltration of water into the underlying soil is prevented. Roads, parking lots and buildings account for the majority of impervious cover.
Published research in recent years has consistently shown a strong relationship between the percentage of impervious cover in a watershed and the health of the receiving stream. Scientists generally agree that stream degradation consistently occurs at relatively low levels of imperviousness, such as 10 to 20 percent. However, when King and his research team applied a new statistical analysis method that they created called the Threshold Indicator Taxa Analysis (TITAN), it showed biodiversity loss at much lower development levels in the study area. In fact, the analysis showed that approximately 80 percent of the biodiversity loss came between .5 and two percent of impervious cover, and the remaining 20 percent of loss came between two and 25 percent.
“This new statistical analysis method is more precise than current methods and when we applied it to real world environments, it revealed a dramatically lower ecological ‘tipping point’ at which species are threatened,” King said. “The implications of these findings are very important in water management strategies.”
The study appears on-line in the journal Ecological Applications.
Matt Pene | Newswise Science News
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy