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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbus, Ohio » Soil Drainage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #344985

Research Project: Agricultural Water Management in Poorly Drained Midwestern Agroecosystems

Location: Soil Drainage Research

Title: Short-term disturbance effects of outdoor education stream classes on aquatic macroinvertebrates

Author
item Bossley, Jon - MOUNT VERNON NAZARENE UNIVERSITY
item Smiley, Peter - Rocky

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/24/2017
Publication Date: 11/1/2017
Citation: Bossley, J.P., Smiley, P.C. 2017. Short-term disturbance effects of outdoor education stream classes on aquatic macroinvertebrates. Journal of Environmental Protection. 8:1333-1353.

Interpretive Summary: Stakeholders often conduct educational outreach events and classes within agricultural streams to teach students how to measure water quality and promote a conservation ethic towards the management of agricultural streams. These educational outreach activities lead to student trampling that may disrupt the substrate and decrease the diversity and abundance of aquatic macroinvertebrates. Yet, the impact of student trampling as a result of educational outreach activities in streams on aquatic macroinvertebrates has not been evaluated. We conducted a field experiment to determine the effects of student trampling on aquatic macroinvertebrates and hydrologic variables in agricultural headwater streams in central Ohio. Macroinvertebrate diversity, abundance, and taxa composition differed temporally and spatially, but was not affected by the experimental disturbance. Our results indicate the one time use of an agricultural headwater stream for an educational outreach event is not likely to impact aquatic macroinvertebrates within these small streams. These results will assist state agencies, federal agencies, non-profit groups, and consulting agencies involved with conservation and management of agricultural watersheds.

Technical Abstract: Outdoor education stream classes provide students with an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with sampling methods for evaluating stream water quality. Student trampling as a result of stream classes may disrupt the substrate and negatively impact aquatic macroinvertebrates. The impact of student trampling as a result of stream classes on aquatic macroinvertebrates has not been evaluated. Our objective was to document the short-term macroinvertebrate responses to an experimental disturbance that simulated the impacts of student trampling in riffles within small headwater streams. We sampled aquatic macroinvertebrates and measured hydrological and substrate variables within control and experimental riffles in three agricultural headwater streams in central Ohio one day prior to experimental disturbance, immediately after disturbance, and one day after disturbance. Macroinvertebrate abundance, diversity, percent clingers, percent Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera, percent Leuctridae, and taxa composition differed daily. Macroinvertebrate diversity, percent clingers, and taxa composition differed between riffle types. None of the macroinvertebrate response variables exhibited a significant interaction effect of day x riffle type that is indicative of an effect of the experimental disturbance. Hydrologic variables and substrate type did not differ daily or between riffle types. Our results suggest the one time use of an undisturbed riffle within an agricultural headwater stream for an outdoor education stream class is not likely to impact aquatic macroinvertebrates.