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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Contaminant Removal by Edge-of-Field Wetlands

Location: Water Quality and Ecology Research

Title: A Characterization of Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities in Agricultural Drainage Ditches of the Northeast Arkansas Delta, USA

Authors
item Feldman, David - MONTANA DEPT ENV QUALITY
item Farris, Jerry - ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
item Moore, Matthew
item Cooper, Charles - ARS, RETIRED

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 2009
Publication Date: January 1, 2010
Citation: Feldman, D.L., Farris, J.L., Moore, M.T., Cooper, C.M. 2010. A Characterization of Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities in Agricultural Drainage Ditches of the Northeast Arkansas Delta, USA. In: Moore, M. T. and Kroger, R. (Eds.), Agricultural Drainage Ditches: Mitigation Wetlands for the 21st Century. Research Signpost. Kerala, India. pp. 17-36.

Interpretive Summary: Drainage ditches are unique ecosystems in the agricultural production landscape. Very little information is available on the types of aquatic invertebrates that live in these ecosystems. This study provides a characterization of aquatic macroinvertebrates among different sizes of ditches in the northeast Arkansas portion of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (Delta). An understanding of these macroinvertebrate populations help reveal more detail on the ability of ditches to mitigate a variety of pollutants.

Technical Abstract: Agricultural drainage ditches have large differences in hydroperiod and provide additional water residence time to mitigate farm runoff before it reaches receiving water bodies. These ditch wetland habitats harbor a characteristic benthic macroinvertebrate fauna reflective of the assimilative capacity and sometimes brief ditch hydroperiod. Ten agricultural ditch sites were characterized for water and sediment quality, macroinvertebrate community composition, and other habitat parameters throughout a 100 m reach on each ditch. Seasonal differences in water quality between different ditch size classifications existed. Macroinvertebrate collections yielded 68 different taxa, and seasonal differences were also noted among ditch sizes. Mean annual Percent Chironomidae / Total Diptera scores were similar in most ditch sizes ranging from 85 ± 4% in quaternary ditches to 98 ± 1% in secondary ditches. Using Jaccard’s Index of Similarity, tertiary and riverine ditches were most similar (64%), while primary and tertiary ditches were least similar (31%). A cluster analysis was performed comparing the Hilsenhoff Biotic Index (HBI), taxa richness, Shannon-Wiener, and percent Ephemeropta, Plecoptera, Tricoptera (EPT) metrics. When combined with physical environmental quality measurements, benthic macroinvertebrates may be good indicators of water body changes. The environmental value of certain best management practices can be validated and related to resident organisms that reflect the range of conditions specific to each drainage. However, baseline information on resident communities of unique ecosystems, such as agricultural drainage ditches, must first be established.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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