Submitted to: American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/29/2008
Publication Date: 8/24/2008
Citation: Smiley, P.C., Shields Jr, F.D., Knight, S.S., Gillespie, R.B., Moore, M.T. 2008. Effects of conservation practices on fishes, amphibians, and reptiles within agricultural streams and wetlands. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Paper No. 0215. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Conservation practices have been traditionally used to manage soil and water resources to improve agricultural production, and now include methods to reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture on streams and wetlands. These practices have been regularly implemented within agricultural watersheds in the United States without documentation of their impacts. The goal of the ARS Conservation Effects Assessment Project Watershed Assessment Study is to quantify the effect of conservation practices within 14 agricultural watersheds within the United States. All watersheds are evaluating water chemistry and hydrological responses, and ecological responses are being examined in two midwestern watersheds and one southeastern watershed by the CEAP Ecology Working Group. However, we have conducted research on the effects of conservation practices on aquatic biota since the early 1990’s. Our objective is to synthesize the results of our past and current research involving fish, amphibian, and reptiles within agricultural streams and wetlands. Research within channelized streams focused on fishes through a combination of field studies evaluating community responses and laboratory studies measuring acute toxicity of Pimephales promelas. Riparian wetland research consisted of field experiments that assessed fish, amphibian, and reptile population and community responses. Our key findings suggest that within agricultural landscapes: 1) a combination of reach-scale habitat structures and watershed scale practices will be needed to positively influence fish communities within channelized streams; 2) conservation practices that only reduce loadings of agricultural chemicals within channelized headwater streams may have a limited short term influence on fish communities, but may reduce the prevalence of sublethal effects; 3) the creation of differently sized riparian wetlands adjacent to channelized streams will benefit riparian fish, amphibian, and reptile communities; and 4) conservation practices that alter the management of agricultural fields may provide greater benefits for fishes within riverine wetlands than edge-of-the-field conservation practices.