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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Oxford, Mississippi » National Sedimentation Laboratory » Water Quality and Ecology Research » Research » Research Project #440600

Research Project: Strategic Investigations to Improve Water Quality and Ecosystem Sustainability in Agricultural Landscapes

Location: Water Quality and Ecology Research

Project Number: 6060-13660-009-017-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: May 21, 2021
End Date: May 20, 2026

1. Use existing physical, chemical, and biological data to quantify spatial and temporal variability of conditions (potential site classes) among Delta streams/bayous and define environmental gradients. NOTE – this may entail a larger footprint that includes portions of the Delta located in AR, LA, and TN to expand potential range of conditions for establishing environmental gradients needed for Objectives 2 and 3. 2. Conduct new field and experimental studies that measure potentially more sensitive ecological response measures across field sites and experimental mesocosms that represent environmental gradients in Delta streams. These measures may include including diatom community structure, stream metabolism, extracellular enzyme responses, and denitrification potential. 3. Identify stressor-response relationships between water quality and valued ecological attributes (measures of ecological structure, function, ecosystem services) among streams representing observed nutrient enrichment gradient within Delta landscape that can be used for assessing change in water quality or ecosystem services in the Delta region of Mississippi.

This project aims to build on the success of a previous collaboration to establish scientific support for developing realistic water quality improvement goals for the Delta region of Mississippi and identify useful integrative measures for monitoring water quality and ecosystem responses to implementation of agricultural best management practices. Defined environmental gradients identified among Delta streams will serve as a backdrop for collecting data on new, potentially more sensitive indicators of stream ecosystem structure (diatom assemblages), function (stream metabolism, nutrient limitation, extracellular enzyme activity, or services (nutrient uptake, denitrification). Additional mesocosm resources available through USDA-ARS may be used for experimental studies to confirm field results. Our proposed use of a coupled field and experimental approach can be a powerful tool for establishing science-based management goals for watersheds. This work will require additional capacity which will be met by combining funds provided by USGS and MDEQ with additional funds from USDA-ARS to support a position, located at the National Sedimentation Lab in Oxford, MS. This position will be co-advised by ARS PI and USGS PI and will be responsible for leading field and mesocosm studies, performing analysis, presenting results, and coauthoring manuscripts with Co-PIs. Proposed postdoc funding will be routed through DOE ORISE program with each agency (USGS, ARS) contributing 50% of annual costs for salary, benefits.