Title

Watershed land use and aquatic ecosystem response: Ecohydrologic approach to conservation policy

Publication Date

2009

Journal or Book Title

JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY

Abstract

Land use activities change the natural functions of a watershed impacting the flow of water and water quality, and impair aquatic ecosystems. Optimal allocation of land use depends on attributes related to terrestrial and aquatic environments. A dynamic model that links land use, overland flow, suspended sediment, and an aquatic species is used to evaluate alternate land use policies. The dwarf wedge mussel that is classified as endangered in the region is used as an indicator species of aquatic health in a watershed in Massachusetts. The simulation model is used to evaluate spatial nature of processes and land use policies. Spatial and temporal changes in runoff, sediment loading, and mussel population are modeled over a period of 4 years. Ten policy scenarios represent combinations of best management practices and development of agriculture and urban land at spatial locations of headwaters, main stem regions, riparian, and entire watershed. Increasing the proportion of agriculture and high density residential land use increased runoff, while increasing the frequency and magnitude of peak flows in the watershed. Sediment loading increased with an increased proportion of agriculture area and decreased with an expansion of high density residential area. Scenarios with an increase in sediment loading above the baseline mean exhibited an irregular recovery of the mussel population from high loading events. Policy implications include the need for best management practices to decrease runoff and sediment loading in the watershed, through education and incentive programs.

DOI

10.1016/j.jhydrol.2008.10.017

Volume

364

Issue

1-2

Pages

182-199

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