Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 29, 2006
Publication Date: May 3, 2006
Citation: Smiley, P.C., Gillespie, R.B., Shields, D., Knight, S.S. 2006. Ecological methods for assessing the influence of conservation practices on lotic ecosystems. Meeting Abstract. Technical Abstract: Most assessments of conservation practices focus on water quality, and assessments documenting ecological responses are lacking despite the critical need for this information. Ecologists within the ARS have initiated the development of a standardized sampling protocol for assessing lotic ecosystem responses to conservation practices. The protocol is hypothesis-driven and prescribes quantitative sampling methods for physical, chemical, and biological attributes. Four CEAP-related research projects in the Upper Big Walnut Creek (Ohio) and St. Joseph River (Indiana) watersheds are using this protocol. These research projects will evaluate the: 1) influence of pesticide and nutrient practices on aquatic communities in headwater watersheds; 2) influence of herbaceous riparian buffers on physical habitat and aquatic communities in drainage ditches (i.e., channelized streams); 3) influence of conservation practices on physical habitat and aquatic communities in drainage ditches; and 4) relative influence of physical habitat and water quality on aquatic communities within drainage ditches. Additionally, similar protocols have been applied to assess the relative effects of in-channel and watershed-level erosion controls in two watersheds in northern Mississippi. The sampling protocol provides guidance for researchers interested in measuring the ecological effects of conservation and restoration in small to medium-sized lotic ecosystems.