Abiotic Control of Stream Biota: Physical, Chemical, Hydrological

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Abiotic Control of Stream Biota:
Physical, Chemical, Hydrological and
Spatial Factors
Kevin Kane
Animal Ecology 518, Stream Ecology
Dr. Clay Pierce
Topics of Discussion
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Describe physical, chemical,
hydrological and spatial factors that
influence the stream environment.

Illustrate these factors using the
Wheeling Creek watershed project in
West Virginia.
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Illustrate the interdependence of these
factors using GIS as a tool for rivers
and watersheds in Iowa.
Background:
The Wheeling
Creek Watershed
Wheeling Creek
Background Information
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Wheeling Creek is a tributary of the
Ohio River and drains a portion of
northern West Virginia and the
southwestern area of Pennsylvania.
Total drainage basin area is
approximately 30,000 mi2, and consists
of forested, agricultural, urban, and
industrial landcover.
Wheeling Creek is typical of the upper
Ohio River tributary streams.
Wheeling Creek Location Map
Watershed Site Map
Streams, Sites, and Sampling
Locations in the Watershed
Sites A-F
Wheeling Creek
Watershed
Topographic Map: Sites A-F
Site F: High Altitude Photo
Lower
Wheeling Creek
Site F: 2.6 km
upstream of the
Ohio River at
Tunnel Green
area, Wheeling,
WV.
Site F: Topographic Map
Site F: Low Altitude Aerial Photo
Site F: Stream Level View
Site of Wheeling Creek Wall in
1890
Site of Wheeling Creek Wall in
1996
Physical &
Hydrological Factors
Physical & Hydrological Factors
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Stream Order
Current / Discharge
Substrate
Temperature
Human Factors
Stream Order
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Stream order is a measure of the
relative size of streams.
Stream sizes range from the smallest,
first-order, to the largest, the twelfthorder (the Amazon River).
Over 80% of the total length of Earth's
rivers and streams are headwater
streams (first- and second-order).
Stream Order
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Streams gradually
increase their width
and depth as they
go from 1st order
to nth order.
Water discharge
also increases as
order increases.
Topography and Stream Order
Comparison of 3rd and 4th Order
Stream Watersheds
Comparison of 3rd and 5th Order
Stream Watersheds
1st Order Stream
2nd Order Stream
3rd Order Stream
4th Order Stream
5th Order Stream
6th Order
Stream
Hydrology and
Stream Order
Current / Discharge

Water velocity and associated forces
are huge factors affecting organisms of
running waters
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food delivery
every day physical forces
in-stream ecological distributions
behavioral adaptations
Current / Discharge
Effects of flow on aquatic organisms
 Flow environments
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channel
nearbed
pools
Boundary layers
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friction between moving fluid and a
stationary surface
organisms attaching to surfaces
Hydrology and Body Shape
Substrate
Bottom, sides, and projecting into streams
 Mineral Substrate
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Current and parent material
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geology
soils
Organic Substrates
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minute organic fragments
fallen trees
rooted plants
other animals
Limestone Bed
Substrate
Substrate and Biology
Temperature
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Natural Influences
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climatic zone
altitude
air temp
season
streamside vegetation
water depth
flow rate
snow melt
groundwater mixing
Temperature
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Human Activity (Thermal Pollution)
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coolant discharge
storm water (roofs, pavement)
removal of streamside vegetation
lancover changes
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agricultural practices
construction
recreation
erosion (suspended solids)
Temperature / Chemical
Interaction
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Chemical processes involved in
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Sensitivity (thermal stress and shock)
of organisms to
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metabolism
growth
reproduction
behavior
toxic wastes
parasites
diseases
Dissolved Oxygen
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Warmer temps decrease the ability of
water to hold oxygen molecules
Temperature
Temperature and Biology
Human Factors
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Landcover / Landuse Change
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Sewage
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Pollution
Human Factors
Landcover
vs.
Diversity
Sewage
Pollution
Weather and Biology
Physical Data
Chemical Factors
Water Chemistry
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Many factors influence the composition
of river water
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There is much spatial variation of
stream water chemistry
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The ultimate source of all the
constituents of stream water originate
from dissolution of the earth’s rocks
Water Chemistry
Chemical Factors
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pH
Alkalinity
Conductivity
Hardness
Dissolved Gasses (oxygen, carbon
dioxide, and nitrogen)
Chemical Settling
pH
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The concentration of hydrogen ions in
the solution (acidity and alkalinity)
Every unit change in pH represents a
ten fold change in acidity
Factors in pH of Natural Water
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bedrock and soil type
vegetation type
nature and discharge of pollutants
concentration of carbonates and carbon
dioxide
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high concent. produce alkaline water (hi pH)
low concent. produce acidic waters (low pH)
pH
Normal surface waters
range from 5.5 - 8.5
pH
Alkalinity
Buffering Action of Streams
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Chemical reactions within streams can
cause a weak buffer
Buffering is the ability of water to resist
a change in its pH
As acidity increases, the buffering
capacity is consumed
Water Hardness
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Total concentration of cations
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calcium
magnesium
iron
manganese
A reflection of the watershed geology
and also human activity in the
watershed
Important in the formation of cell
material in aquatic plants and animals
Conductivity
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The ability of an aqueous solution to
carry an electrical current through the
movement of ions
Indicator for dissolved chemicals in
water
Dissolved Oxygen
Two main sources in stream water
 atmosphere
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waves and tumbling water mix air into
water where oxygen readily dissolves until
saturation occurs
photosynthesis
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oxygen is introduced by aquatic plants
and algae as a byproduct of
photosynthesis
Dissolved oxygen decreases with rise in
temperature
Dissolved Oxygen
Dissolved Oxygen
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Essential for fish, invertebrate, plant,
and aerobic bacteria respiration
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5-6 ppm - normal fish growth activity
3 ppm - stressful to most aquatic
organisms
<1-2 ppm will not support fish
Oxygen deficiency factor examples
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aquatic organism consumption
sewage
urban and ag runoff
industrial discharge
Leaf Litter
Stream Chemist
Chemical Data
Spatial Factors
Spatial Factors
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Spatial scale and spatial distribution of
physical and chemical factors influence
an individual stream dramatically.
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The interdependence of these factors
and their analysis can predict a given
stream environment.
Spatial Factors
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Geology
Soils
Landcover
Human activities
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landfills
industrial areas
cities
agricultural uses
Maps and GIS - Spatial monitoring and
Analysis
Spatial Factors
Typical Landcover in Watershed
Geology and Biology
Remote Sensing Data
Site Topographic Map
Site A: High Altitude Photo
Lower
Wheeling
Creek Site A:
12.0 Kilometers
upstream of the
Ohio River at
Elm Grove,
W.V.
Site A: Topographic Map
Site A: Low Altitude Aerial Photo
Site A: Stream Level View
Scene on Big Wheeling Creek in
1904
Sampling Sites
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Water quality sampling sites are
representative of various sized streams
from north to south and east to west.
This allows comparison of water quality
at one site with the water quality at other
sites within the watershed.
This is a “watershed approach”, which
means that it is important to view water
quality at any one site within the context
of water quality in the overall watershed.
Streams, Sites, and Sampling
Locations in the Watershed
Sampling Locations
Physical Data From Sampling
Locations
Chemical Data From Sampling
Locations
Biological Data From Sampling
Locations
Biological Data From Sampling
Locations
Spatial Factors and Biology
Affect on Stream Biota
Volunteer Monitoring Group
Stonefly
Biomonitoring
Mollusk
Biological Data
River Continuum Concept
Interdependence of
Abiotic Factors:
Using GIS As a Tool for
Streams and Watershed
Analysis in Iowa.
Iowa’s Native Landscape
Surveying Crew
Iowa’s Prairie
Prairie Stream
Plowing the Prairie
Tiling the Prairie for Agriculture
Tiling the Prairie for Agriculture
Straightening a Prairie Stream
Abiotic Factors:
Visualization and Analysis
in a GIS
Summary
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Stream environment is very dependent
on the physical and chemical factors of
the watershed.
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A specific stream environment is very
dependent upon the spatial distribution
of these factors in the watershed.
References
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Allan, J.D. 1995. Stream Ecology -Structure and Function of Running
Waters. Chapman and Hall, UK.
Andersen, K., et al. 1997. Historical Land Use and
Surface Hydrology Alterations in Iowa Agricultural
Watersheds. ISU Dept. of Animal Ecology, Ames.
Roth,N.E., J.D. Allan, and D.L. Erickson, 1996,
Landscape influences on stream biotic integrity
assessed at multiple spatial scales. Landscape
Ecology 11: 141-156.
Myers, Robert. 1998. NASA Classroom of the
Future: Exploring the Environment - Water Quality.
Wheeling, WV. http://www.cotf.edu/ete/main.html
References (cont.)
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Anderson P. F. 1997. GIS Research to Digitize
Maps of Iowa 1832-1859 Vegetation from General
Land Office Township Plat Maps. Iowa Department
of Natural Resources.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 1998.
Natural Resources Geographic Information System
Library. Iowa DNR, Des Moines.
Photo Credits
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NASA Classroom of the Future : Exploring the
Environment - Water Quality. Wheeling, WV.
http://www.cotf.edu/ete/main.html
Andersen, Kathy. ISU Dept. of Animal Ecology
Arbuckle, Kelly. ISU Dept. of Animal Ecology

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