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SFS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, June 4, 2024
15:00 - 16:30

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S25 Advances in Watershed-scale Restoration Science and Monitoring

15:30 - 15:45 | Freedom Ballroom E | RIFFLE CONSTRUCTION IN NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS RIVERS INCREASE MACROINVERTEBRATE ABUNDANCE AND INTRODUCE ADDITIONAL COMMUNITIES TO THE LANDSCAPE.

6/04/2024  |   15:30 - 15:45   |  Freedom Ballroom E

Riffle construction in Northern Great Plains Rivers increase macroinvertebrate abundance and introduce additional communities to the landscape. River channelization has been used extensively for river regulation around the world resulting in decreasing habitat for aquatic organisms by increasing peak flows and reducing habitat heterogeneity. Sediment mobilization from instream erosion smothers natural substrates, and mitigation of these effects is crucial for the recovery of managed river systems to provide habitat space for aquatic life that is otherwise excluded. The Upper Qu’Appelle River is a turbid, high sediment load Northern Great Plains waterway meandering through a glacial river floodplain which has been channelized, straightened, and hydrologically altered, and efforts to improve its function have included the installation of 25 engineered riffles. The objective of this study is to provide insight into how these riffles affect the diversity, abundance, and assemblage composition of benthic macroinvertebrate fauna in the river. I used paired run-riffle comparisons to assess the pattern of change at a site level, and accessed previous data from these locations to provide a measure of how the riffles may have altered regional diversity (gamma diversity) since their construction. We found that the constructed riffles increased the abundance but had no effect on diversity at a local scale. Overall, the assemblage was different in the riffles relative to historical and current run habitats and diversity at a regional scale was significantly increased. By introducing additional assemblages to the Upper Qu’Appelle River these riffles will inherently expand the ecological functions performed and are an effective tool for mitigating the channelization and water management impacts that have occurred here.

Iain Phillips (Primary Presenter/Author), Water Security Agency of Saskatchewan, iain.phillips@wsask.ca;

15:45 - 16:00 | Freedom Ballroom E | POTENTIAL FOR FISH MIGRATION RESTORATION TO PROVIDE RESOURCE SUBSIDIES TO RECIPIENT UP STREAM ECOSYSTEMS.

6/04/2024  |   15:45 - 16:00   |  Freedom Ballroom E

Potential for fish migration restoration to provide resource subsidies to recipient up stream ecosystems. Adfluvial migratory fishes can deliver significant resource subsidies to upstream habitats through carcasses, gametes, and nutrient excretion, but fish migrations into many streams and rivers are blocked by anthropogenic barriers. The ecological consequences of eliminating these resource subsidies to the upstream river network will depend on the timing and specific destination of the missing migrations. Here, we present an approach to estimating the potential for restoring subsidies in a tributary of Lake Michigan where future fish passage over a terminal dam is planned. We performed three parallel studies to predict nutrient subsidy potential, focusing on dissolved nutrients: 1) bioassays of algal nutrient limitation during the spring fish migration season, 2) monitoring of spatiotemporal variation in nutrient concentrations and discharge across the river network, and 3) spatial tracking of migrations of two native migratory suckers (Catostomus catostomus, Catostomus commersonii) using acoustic telemetry. Algal growth was generally co-limited by nitrogen and phosphorus, and nutrient concentrations varied consistently across the river network during three consecutive years of sampling. Sucker species did not migrate as far upstream as anticipated, and their migration timing generally coincided with peak flows during the spring freshet. Taken together, our results suggest that nutrient subsidies from restoring fish migrations may benefit smaller tributaries in our study system, but the ecosystem benefits will depend strongly on the details of timing and location of spawning.

Greg Jacobs (Primary Presenter/Author), Cornell University, gj93@cornell.edu;

Marisa Vale Cruz (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Cornell University, mtv36@cornell.edu;

Selina Al-Nazzal (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Windsor, alnazzas@uwindsor.ca;

Reid Swanson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Great Lakes Fishery Commission, rswanson@glfc.org;

Aaron Fisk (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Windsor, afisk@uwindsor.ca;

Peter McIntyre (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Cornell University, pbm3@cornell.edu;

16:00 - 16:15 | Freedom Ballroom E | CAN FRESHWATER MUSSELS FUNCTION AS A BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICE TO PROVIDE WATER-QUALITY BENEFITS?

6/04/2024  |   16:00 - 16:15   |  Freedom Ballroom E

Can freshwater mussels function as a best management practice to provide water-quality benefits? The U.S. Geological Survey is conducting an intensive stream monitoring program of two restored small (< 1.3 mi2) urban-suburban streams in Reston, Virginia. In 2010, both stream channels were restored to stabilize the banks, preventing channel incision, mass wasting of the banks, and the attendant deleterious sediment effects. Restoration efforts have continued with the reintroduction of thousands of unionid mussels, deployed summer 2023. The monitoring program assesses the hydrology, water-quality, benthic macroinvertebrate communities, fish assemblages, and physical habitat throughout the two streams to evaluate changes over time. In collaboration with Virginia Tech, multiple multi-scale experiments are being performed to evaluate whether mussel introductions could be used as an effective BMP for nutrient and sediment reductions and if they provide other water-quality or ecological benefits.

Brendan Foster (Primary Presenter/Author), U.S. Geological Survey, bfoster@usgs.gov;

Sally Entrekin (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Virginia Tech, sallye@vt.edu;

Jess Jones (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jess_Jones@fws.gov;

Denise Bruesewitz (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Colby College, dabruese@colby.edu;

Chester Zarnoch (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Baruch College, City University of New York, Chester.Zarnoch@baruch.cuny.edu;

Donya Mohamed (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Virginia Tech, donyamohamed63@gmail.com;

Douglas Chambers (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), U.S. Geological Survey, dbchambe@usgs.gov;

16:15 - 16:30 | Freedom Ballroom E | XSTREAM MAKEOVER: QUANTIFYING ECOSYSTEM PROCESSES TO EVALUATE THE POST RESTORATION STATUS OF AN URBAN HEADWATER STREAM

6/04/2024  |   16:15 - 16:30   |  Freedom Ballroom E

XSTREAM MAKEOVER: QUANTIFYING ECOSYSTEM PROCESSES TO EVALUATE THE POST RESTORATION STATUS OF AN URBAN HEADWATER STREAM The rapid expansion of urban areas poses a significant threat to the water quality of headwater streams, which are crucial sites of nutrient transformation, uptake, and storage. The adverse, consistently documented effects of urbanization on streams have been summarized as Urban Stream Syndrome (USS). Restoration is essential to restore ecosystem function in streams with USS; however, post-restoration monitoring often overlooks ecosystem processes. Here, we quantified nutrient uptake, a key ecosystem process, to evaluate the effects of restoration on Mullins Branch (Fayetteville, AR), an urban headwater stream that underwent restoration in 2012. We performed short-term nutrient additions of ammonium (NH4+-N) to quantify nutrient uptake in the restoration reach and a downstream unrestored reach and measured uptake length (Sw in m). Preliminary results indicate Sw is shorter in the restoration reach (range = 43.1-151.5 m) than in the unrestored reach (range = 161.3-204.1 m), suggesting ecosystem processes, quantified as nutrient uptake, are improved in the restoration reach. We will continue to sample across seasons to fully evaluate the year-round impact of restoration on nutrient uptake. Overall, our results suggest the Mullins Branch restoration was successful at increasing nutrient retention and reducing export of nitrogen to downstream systems.

Jacqueline Todd (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Arkansas, jacquelinetodd01@gmail.com;

Shannon Speir (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Arkansas, slspeir@uark.edu;

Alana Strauss (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Arkansas, alanas@uark.edu;

16:30 - 16:45 | Freedom Ballroom E | CENTURIES-OLD LAND-USE CHANGES INFLUENCE CONTEMPORARY BIOGEOCHEMICAL GROUNDWATER BEHAVIOR IN HEADWATER STREAMS

6/04/2024  |   16:30 - 16:45   |  Freedom Ballroom E

Centuries-old land-use changes influence contemporary biogeochemical groundwater behavior in headwater streams Before the era of fossil fuel use, water provided power for industrial processes in the USA through a ubiquitous network of dams and mills. This infrastructure was constructed concurrently with widespread deforestation and sedimentation during the 18th through 20th centuries causing wide-spread transformation of streams and buried floodplains with so-called legacy sediments. These centuries-old changes lead to stream incision and decoupled hydrological and biogeochemical processes causing excess transport of sediments and nutrients. In a pilot study, floodplain restoration involving legacy sediment removal was implemented at an intensively studied stream, Big Stream Run in Pennsylvania, USA. We sought to understand how restored hydrologic connection between floodplains and streams would influence biogeochemical processing of nitrogen and carbon in this landscape. Using variability in the oxygen isotope composition of catchment waters, we examined how groundwater contact times and flowpaths influenced seasonal nitrate and carbon concentrations in an 8-year, pre- and post-restoration study conducted at Big Spring Run. Denitrification potential was lowest in legacy sediments and significantly higher in the restored portion of the floodplain. Furthermore, greater nitrogen transformation occurred along more active paths of groundwater flow, especially where carbon concentrations were seasonally stable. Our study showed that even centuries-old extreme events can affect biogeochemistry of streams and that restoration can have a positive effect on sediment and nutrient fate and transport.

Paul Mayer (Primary Presenter/Author), United States Environmental Protection Agency, mayer.paul@epa.gov;

Kenneth Forshay (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), U.S. EPA, forshay.ken@epa.gov;

Julie Weitzman (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), CUNY Advanced Science Research Center and Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, NY USA, julie.weitzman@stanford.edu;

Jessica Wilhelm (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Kansas State University, wilhelmjf1@gmail.com;

J. Renee Brooks (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), EPA Western Ecology Division, Brooks.Reneej@epa.gov ;

Sujay Kaushal (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Maryland, skaushal@umd.edu;

Dorothy Merritts (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Franklin and Marshall College, dorothy.merritts@fandm.edu;

Robert Walter (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Franklin and Marshall College, robert.walter@fandm.edu;

16:45 - 17:00 | Freedom Ballroom E | ALL STYLE AND NO SUBSTANCE? YEARS AFTER CHANNEL RESTORATION EFFORTS AND STILL NO IMPROVEMENTS IN STREAM HEALTH

6/04/2024  |   16:45 - 17:00   |  Freedom Ballroom E

ALL STYLE AND NO SUBSTANCE? YEARS AFTER CHANNEL RESTORATION EFFORTS AND STILL NO IMPROVEMENTS IN STREAM HEALTH Urban streams often suffer from multiple physicochemical stressors tied to current human activity and past changes in the watershed. Channel restoration efforts like channel realignment, floodplain reconnection via legacy sediment removal, bank stabilization with armoring, flow deflection structures, and instream habitat additions are often prescribed to improve or even restore the ecological integrity of impaired urban and agricultural streams. Since 2014 (with some preliminary data from 2005 and 2009), we have assessed the impact of several channel restoration projects on chemistry and macroinvertebrates in reaches visually assessed as “high priority” in Plum Run, an urban stream in southeastern Pennsylvania. Despite an estimated $2 million spent on extensive Best Management Practices (BMPs) across ~2900 m of stream, water chemistry and macroinvertebrate metrics failed to show improvements in stream condition. Rather, despite the investment in these common BMPs, chloride concentration and macroinvertebrate metrics suggest that anthropogenic stress remains high and may have increased within Plum Run’s watershed since 2005. While this type of restoration can improve habitat scores and aesthetics of a stream, our data add to the growing evidence that geomorphic modifications in the stream corridor frequently do not mitigate physicochemical stressors that are depressing ecological integrity (i.e., macroinvertebrates). Our data also suggest that the quality of road runoff (e.g., salt concentration) is more important than originally recognized. These results also demonstrate that understanding stressors within a watershed is needed when planning stream restorations, and that measuring ecological responses is necessary if future restoration efforts are to be more successful.

Catherine Bille (Primary Presenter/Author), Stroud Water Research Center, kbille@stroudcenter.org;

John Jackson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Stroud Water Research Center, jkjackson@stroudcenter.org;