Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New protocol tracks how land use influences the way streams work

13.10.2005


Virginia Tech biology researchers have applied tools from geology, geography, and hydrologic modeling to determine the effect of different land uses on stream quality across 10 watersheds of the French Broad River in the North Carolina mountains. The result is a new protocol for determining the health or condition of huge land-water systems. The research has also resulted in a set of tools for predicting the effect of development decisions in the watersheds studied, which are near Ashville, N.C.

Biology professor Maury Valett, recent doctoral graduate Chris Burcher, and biology professor Fred Benfield will present their research at the Geological Sciences of America national meeting in Salt Lake City Oct. 16-19.

Valett and Burcher use the "domino effect" as an analogy to describe their research process. "When you knock down a string of dominos, the first one is the stimulus and the last one to fall is the response," said Valett. "We are looking at all the important entities in between." The stimuli include such land uses as parking lots, farms, and urban development. The entities are components of stream – land ecosystems.



The scientific term is "path analysis" and it is a statistical process more often used in social sciences than physical sciences, Burcher said. But he found it a valuable approach for accounting for the multiple influences of different land uses on how disturbance is translated across landscapes. "The ’land-cover cascade’ approach helps identify the specific pattern whereby earth manipulation results in erosion and sedimentation that combine to influence the organisms that live in streams," Burcher said.

"We would like to follow a particle from a parking lot to a stream, but we can’t do that so we allow path analysis to show us how the dominos are falling," said Valett. "A realistic goal is to try to figure out where you can prop up a domino or take one out to manage a situation to improve stream health."

Burcher said 10 watersheds provided a good representation of the range of what humans are doing to the landscape. He had to learn to use geographic information systems (GIS) and hydrologic modeling to observe land use at that scale, however. He used Landsat imagery in GIS to identify three land uses – agriculture, urban, and forested, within zones where water and sediments differentially moved or settled.

Burcher was back in his own field when it came to measuring responses. The lives and times of stream fish and insects were summarized by 13 metrics that indicated when a cascade of terrestrial events caused significant aquatic damage.

Land use can cause erosion, change bank height or steepness, change stream shape, water speed, deliver sediment to make for a muddy stream, or can change the chemistry or structure of the streambed. Bugs, such as stoneflies and mayflies, are signs of a healthy stream because they process energy and matter – that is, they eat leaves and then are eaten by fish. If the insect population becomes one that derives energy from algae, for instance, the balance changes.

"Total density of fish was one of the best models for stream health," Burcher said.

Valett, Burcher, and Benefield’s talk, "The Land Cover Cascade: Linking terrestrial and aquatic subsystems.," will be part of a special session at the GSA meeting organized by Virginia Tech geosciences professor Madeline Schreiber and Valett to present biology-geology approaches to studying the flowpaths that integrate terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

There will be presentations from several universities, including two more from Virginia Tech, at the session, which will be from 8 a.m. until noon on Oct. 16 in Salt Palace Convention Center room 251 C.

Susan Trulove | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.vt.edu
http://www.biol.vt.edu/research/streamteam/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

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...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

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...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

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,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>