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Effects Urbanization Has on Stream Inhabitants By: Mark Schleier BIOL 2800 Introduction Streams are among the many natural sources of water found on earth and provide habitats for a large number of macroinvertebrates, amongst other wildlife (Brittain et al., 2012). As small as streams may be, they always grow in size and area as they venture further away from their headwaters and approach larger bodies of water. A streams interconnectedness to other bodies of water down-stream is a unique relationship in that whatever enters the stream in its beginning will most likely follow it into its end (Brittain et al., 2012). This unique relationship has its complications when anthropogenic interactions take place. The human race is growing and as a result, they are spreading into new areas globally. Streams are among the first geographical features to be tempered with and as a result, these alterations have lasting negative effects that may be traced from the ocean to its headwaters (Gage et al., 2004; Hedrick et al., 2010; Sandin, 2009; Muenz et al., 2006; Silva et al., 2010; Smith and Lamp, 2008; Walsh et al., 2005). As humans have progressed over time, they have realized that streams are susceptible to these changes in the environment. Many actions have taken place to prevent or reverse some of these damages done by urbanization, but one of the biggest take-a-ways from this is that streams are a natural indicator of stream health. Stream health may be measured in many different ways, but there is also no one correct form of stream health, e.g. large stream organisms vs. small stream organisms may be able to survive and thrive in very different circumstances. One of the easiest methods in determining a streams health is to look at its physical and abiotic features. Some of these characters include evaluation of the riparian zone, determining the stream substrate, and bank stability. Despite

these characteristics of a stream consisting of abiotic factors, studies have shown that in some cases stream health relies more on these factors than any others (Sandin, 2009). These features all tie into a stream ecosystem, but as mentioned earlier there is no one correct combination to a healthy stream. Another way in which stream health may be determined is to test the streams chemical and physical characters that make up the water (Muenz et al., 2006). Temperature and turbidity are fairly easy to determine, but nitrate, PH and dissolved oxygen levels require a more sophisticated method in evaluation. These stream characteristics can vary dramatically between streams, and each different species of organism within the stream reacts to these levels in different ways. For example, dissolved oxygen levels are going to severally impact the organisms that only live in water, while amphibious organisms may be better suited for lower levels of dissolved oxygen. There are many different instruments that may be used in this testing and each of these factors have their own affects on stream habitats. Many of these factors influence each other. For example, in many cases as temperature increases, dissolved oxygen levels decrease. Despite their interconnectedness, even subtle changes in these factors may have dramatic affects on stream health. We measured two streams in order to determine how their locations and physical attributes affected stream health and macroinvertebrate diversity. The two chemical assessments collected that will be used in this lab report are dissolved oxygen and water velocity. The two physical features used in this assessment were channel sinuosity and vegetative protection left and right banks. The purpose of this study was to compare how visual and physical assessments of streams and their locations relate to the overall quality of the stream itself. This comparison would support the correlation between stream health and human impacts decreasing stream

health. We hypothesized that the stream less urbanized (Champion Creek), being a rural stream, would be healthier; thus sustaining a larger and more diverse macroinvertebrate population. Methods Study System The first stream studied was Champion Creek, located near Georgia Colleges East Campus at the coordinates of 33.1165N and 83.1882W. This stream was studied on March 11 and March 13 of 2013 by two separate lab groups. The section of Champion creek used in this study was 351 ft. long. The second stream studied was College Station Creek, located North of Georgia College Campus at the coordinates of 33.0873 N and 83.2299 W. This stream was studied on March 18th and March 20th of 2013 by the previous separate lab groups. The section of College Station Creek used in this study was 330 ft. long. Experimental Design There were three aspects of each stream measured in this study; visual, chemical and organismal. The visual assessments were done first at each stream and encompassed a wide range of the streams physical features. This assessment is referred to as the rapid habitat assessment (DNR, 2013), and only two of the many charters associated with the assessment will be used in this report; channel sinuosity and vegetative protection left and right banks. This assessment was replicated 20 times between the two lab groups conducting the experiment. The chemical assessments used in this study were dissolved oxygen levels and water velocity. Each of these assessments were replicated a total 6 times per stream for a total of 12 replications between the two streams and two groups. The dissolved oxygen levels were measured with a 556 MPS handheld multiparameter YSI at each study site. It was used in three locations at both streams; up-stream, middle-stream, and down-stream. The water velocity was

measured with a geopack water velocity meter at each site in the same locations as the YSI; upstream, middle-stream, and down-stream. Both the YSI and the geopack required full submersion of the meter to ensure that water was in full contact with the instruments for accurate results. The macroinvertebrates were collected with D-nets, where students moved stream substrate to mobilize organisms into the nets. After the organisms were identified, they were released back into the stream at the end of the collection process. They were kept in stream water buckets until released back into the stream. Statistical Analysis The analysis of this study was done by the use of t-tests and the Shannon Diversity Index. The Shannon Diversity Index was used to determine how macroinvertebrate diversity varied between the two sites and species richness numbers were calculated with the data. Results Water velocity varied significantly between the two streams studied (Figure 1: t10= -3.15; p= .012) as well as channel sinuosity (Figure 2: t41= -10.3; p= 1.11 x 10-12). Bank vegetation was significantly different between the two streams, where the left bank was (t41= -5.67; p= 2.12x 106) and

the right was (t41= -6.09; p= 3.86x 10-7). Dissolved oxygen levels also varied between the

two streams (t10= 15.29; p= 2.17x 10-5). The Shannon diversity index was also used to determine H= 1.92698 for Champion Creek and H= 1.7903 for College Station where Figure 3 illustrates how Champion Creek contained a wider variety of organisms than College Station. Figure 3 also illustrated how Champion Creek also had a greater species richness than College Station did.

0.35 0.3 Water Velocity m/s 0.25 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 College Station Creek Champion Creek

Water Velocity
Quartile 1 Min Median Max Quartile 3

Figure 1: This figure shows boxplots of stream water velocity at both streams studied in this experiement. Each of the streams (n=6) were sampled at three different locations within each stream. Figure 2:
14 Average Channel Sinuosity Score 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 College Station Creek Champion Creek

Channel Sinuosity

Figure 2: This figure shows the average sinuosity scores that were given to the two streams in the experiment. A 0 represents a highly channelized stream with no bends in the stream itself. A 14 represents a stream with moderate bending in the stream itself increasing the overall length of the stream by 2 times the length of a straight stream. College Station (n= 20) and Champion Creek (n=23).

Figure 3:
1 Proportional Abundance

Macroinvertebrate Rank Abundance

Champion Creek College Station



0.001 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Rank

Figure 3: This figure shows the macroinvertebrate rankings within each stream. The y-axis represents the number of different species found within each stream, while the x-axis represents the proportion each of those species were found within the sampling period.

Discussion The two chemical and physical features tested in this experiment were dissolved oxygen levels, and water velocity, Figure 1. Both of which were significantly different between the two streams, with Champion Creek having the highest velocity and College Station having the highest dissolved oxygen levels. This is very a very interesting occurrence in that generally as water velocity increases, so does dissolved oxygen. However, in this scenario the slower water contained higher levels of dissolved oxygen which is contradictory. Confounding variables were both evident with both locations in that Champion Creek is flowing directly out of a lake roughly 100 yards up river from our testing site. This means that the water went from being near stagnant with low dissolved oxygen levels to flowing with higher levels. College station might have been more aerated up river due to steeper grade or lack of pooling. The two visual assessments used in this report were left and right bank vegetation coverage, and channel sinuosity, Figure 2. When higher scores are given to a stream, both of

these characteristics are associated with headwater systems that are relatively natural. Streams are naturally sinuous and lush with riparian vegetation, but when urbanization and agriculture encroach on these systems, they begin to lose this as humans alter them (Gage et al., 2004). Both characters assessed were significantly different between the two creeks with Champion Creek being significantly higher in both cases. Both of these characters are generally good indicators of identifying streams that have been impacted by humans. It was evident that college station was channelized and lacked any of its original sinuosity, while it was also lacking and vegetative cover. What this means for macroinvertebrates is that the stream is in a more natural state when there are higher scores for this assessment and that it is more likely to be a healthier stream. Our hypothesis was that College Station would be a less healthy stream unable to support the variety of macroinvertebrates that Champion Creek would. Macroinvertebrates were also collected from each stream in this study to assist in the comparisons between the two streams. Forty percent of the organisms collected at College Station were gilled snails, while a similar situation occurred at Champion Creek with one species occurring thirty six percent of the time. Despite the organisms being ranked so high at Champion Creek, there was more consistency in its species occurrence compared to College Stations decline ultimately leaving Champion with more species. Despite all of the significant differences between the two streams, organism diversity and richness, determined by H in the results, (Champion Creek: H= 1.92698; College Station: H= 1.7903) were not significantly different. The H value for Champion Creek was higher though, indicating a relationship between the variables used in this study and stream health. Additionally, a high H value means that there was a higher percentage of organism diversity.

Many studies have conducted similar experiments to this due to the increasing number of streams encroached by humans causing habitat loss, erosion, nutrient imbalances and macroinvertebrate loss (Gage et al., 2004; Hedrick et al., 2010; Sandin, 2009; Muenz et al., 2006; Silva et al., 2010; Smith and Lamp, 2008; Walsh et al., 2005). Some studies have been conducted on learning how the construction of roads and deforestation have impacted streams, but they all relate back to stream health. Other studies also indicate that rare or headwater specific species are at the greatest risk from urbanization (Smith and Lamp, 2008; Muenz et al., 2006). The purpose in these experiments is not only to learn more on how we can protect our waters and streams, but how we can protect ourselves. The reality is that all streams flow into larger bodies of water, where these bodies of water are then used for many different resources, namely drinking water. If headwaters are being ruined and contaminated, that impacts down-river, which in turn impacts us.

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