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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

The mission of the Water Quality and Ecology Research Unit is to develop basic and applied science for protecting and enhancing soil and water resources and ecosystem function within watersheds affected by agricultural activities. Project strategies involve the entire watershed system from contributing source areas to receiving water bodies.

Objectives include:

  1. Develop and evaluate farm and land management practices that reduce erosion, conserve soil, improve water quality, and protect ecological resources.
    • Quantify the effects of conservation practices on runoff water quality and soil resources in Beasley Lake CEAP watershed.
    • Assess the influence of conservation practices on ecology and agricultural contaminant fate and transport in alluvial plain landscapes.
  2. Characterize and/or quantify the structure, function, and key processes of ecosystems in agricultural settings.
    • Evaluate how nutrients, pesticides, and sediments interact with watershed hydrology to influence mechanisms regulating water quality and aquatic ecosystem structure and function in agricultural watersheds.
    • Examine effects of water flow, climate-change-induced drought, and agricultural nutrient contaminants on stream microbial productivity and nutrient processing.
    • Examine associations between fish species composition, hydrologic connectivity, and hypoxia in agricultural watersheds.
  3. Integrated assessment of the effects of agriculture on ecosystem services for watershed-scale endpoints.
    • Develop integrated remote sensing tools to better evaluate wetlands and riparian buffers.
    • Develop agricultural conservation strategies to adapt to climate change.
    • Develop integrated modeling tools to assess the effectiveness of conservation practices that enhance ecosystem services at multiple scales.

Last Modified: 4/19/2013
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