Stream ecology, Cotton strip assay, EEM-PARAFAC, Benthic macroinvertebrates, Urbanization, Agriculture
In the era of the Anthropocene, streams and rivers are among the most heavily impacted ecosystems due to the influence of catchment land use on stream water quality and ecological condition. In practice, structural and functional indicators collected by biomonitoring programs are underused and thus limited in their ability to offer practical insight into functional-based restoration approaches. Here we applied a novel combination of indicators—cotton strip decomposition, benthic invertebrate sampling together with dissolved organic matter (DOM) composition — to determine if streams highly impacted by urbanized and agricultural land use across Windsor-Essex (southwestern Ontario, Canada) were consistent across season, anthropogenic land use or some combination of both. Overall, our results suggest that urbanized and agricultural streams are indeed degraded at a similar level, with high decomposition rates and low levels of macroinvertebrate diversity. Moreover, DOM quality proved to be the most predictable indicator spatially and seasonally, integrating insights from both decomposition and macroinvertebrate indices. Microbial humic-like DOM correlated positively with decomposition rates, and negatively with invertebrate species richness. Our findings show that functional changes in stream ecological condition can be effectively tracked by structural indicators, namely DOM composition. DOM offers a cost-effective approach to assessing ecosystem health and should be explored as a reliable indicator in monitoring programs and to inform functional-based indicators in ecosystem restoration.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Nolan, Shayenna; Frazao, Alyssa Alves; Hosen, J D.; and Febria, Catherine. (2023). Anthropogenic land uses influence stream dissolved organic matter quality more than decomposition rates and macroinvertebrate diversity. Ecological Indicators, 155, 1-14.