Submitted to: Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/1995
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Use of larger, more economically feasible equipment in agriculture has forced farmers to clear many small areas once left in natural cover. Natural riparian areas bordering streams has declined in recent decades for this and other reasons. One of the objectives of the Demonstration Erosion control (DEC) Project in the Yazoo Basin is to evaluate standard and modified stream stability measures for their environmental soundness and to suggest low or no-cost alternatives where environmental enhancement is possible. Field-scale grade control pipes are a common, low-cost construction which stop gully erosion that originates from overbank water flow into streams. These structures can create small natural habitats which quickly are colonized by local natural vertebrate wildlife and become refugia for many animals, both native and migratory. Resource managers with the states and federal organizations like NRCS can use this information to enhance a farm's natural streamside environment at no additional cost when repairing a stream-related gully.
Technical Abstract: In the past century available natural habitat for vertebrates has declined worldwide. In the hill lands of Mississippi, erosion and channel stabilization problems have contributed to environmental degradation. A common method for controlling head-cutting gully erosion in the Demonstration Erosion Control (DEC) Project in the Yazoo Basin is the installation of field-scale grade control pipes or drop pipes. These structures transfer runoff water from field level to stream level through a metal drain pipe. The shape of the gully side collection basin at the pipe inlet allows small terrestrial and wetland habitats to develop with associated shallow pools that may be permanently or seasonally flooded. This study evaluated vertebrate use of habitats created by the installation of drop pipes. Four major pool categories were classified based on water depth and surrounding vegetation. Category 1 habitat has the smallest temporary pool, least vegetative structure, and is primarily a terrestrial habitat. Categories consecutively increase to Cat. 4 which has the deepest pool, most vegetative structure, and is a wetland habitat. In all habitat categories, amphibians had the highest percent capture abundance, fish were second, birds were third, mammals were fourth, and reptiles had the lowest percent capture abundance. Mean species richness and percentage capture abundance for all vertebrate classes increased from Cat. 1 habitats to Cat. 4 habitats. This study demonstrates that installation of drop pipes creates habitats capable of supporting animals from all vertebrate classes. Benefits from properly designed field scale grade control pipes are twofold: reducing field erosion and creating habitats.