Thursday, July 19, 2007

U.S Geological Survey study includes Stalker Creek

The Silver Creek staff have been helping the U.S. geological survey with a study that looks at nutrients and their effects on ecology (the NEET study). This study, started in 2007, includes over 30 sites throughout central Idaho, including five in the vicinity of Silver Creek. The Silver Creek staff helped collect data on Stalker creek including: macrophytes, algae, macroinvertibrates, substrate, habitat, and stream chemistry. The study will help:

1. Determine the interaction of nutrients and biological communities (algae, invertebrates, and fish) in streams, and how these interactions are modified by the agricultural setting, including watershed characteristics, stream habitat, and other natural factors.
2. Assess the interrelations among nutrients, algal biomass, and stream metabolism, defined as the gain and loss in dissolved oxygen associated with photosynthesis and plant and animal respiration.
3. Determine the transport, chemical transformation, and retention of nutrients (referred to as "nutrient cycling") in the water column and surrounding sediments.
4. Test existing ecological indicators of nutrient enrichment and develop new models for the prediction of ecological effects.
Why are nutirents important? Nitrogen and phosphorus are essential for healthy plant and animal populations in streams, with each water body requiring a specific balance of nutrients to maintain aquatic life. However, elevated concentrations of nutrients can lead to excessive, often unsightly, growth of aquatic plants. Excessive aquatic plant growth reduces dissolved oxygen in water and alters stream habitat, both of which are critical for fish and other aquatic life. These problems occur over the full range of surface waters, from small streams to receiving coastal waters where they can threaten fish and shellfish that are economically and ecologically important. Overgrowth of aquatic plants can clog water-intake pipes and filters and can interfere with recreational activities, such as fishing, swimming, and boating. Subsequent decay of aquatic plans can result in foul odors and taste. An improved understanding of the effects nutrient enrichment in small streams is particularly important because these systems can be particularly effective at processing nutrients along with being highly sensitive to nutrient enrichment (
USGS staff will be presenting findings from similar studies (fish and macroinvertebrates) on Silver Creek at the Watershed Symposium, October 27, 2007. Call 788-7910 for details on this event.

No comments: