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SFS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, June 4, 2024
10:30 - 12:00

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S25 Advances in Watershed-scale Restoration Science and Monitoring

10:30 - 10:45 | Freedom Ballroom E | LED FROM WITHIN: WATERSHED RESTORATION, MONITORING AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN TWO AGRICULTURAL CATCHMENTS IN SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA

6/04/2024  |   10:30 - 10:45   |  Freedom Ballroom E

Led From Within: Watershed Restoration, Monitoring and Community Engagement In Two Agricultural Catchments in Southeastern Pennsylvania A 15-year project of restoration and monitoring is underway in two small agricultural watersheds in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where Amish and Old Order Mennonite families predominate.These streams were chosen because of strong farmer participation, intense agricultural activities, and differences in underlying geology. In addition, the forested headwaters of one watershed support a relatively healthy macroinvertebrate community that can easily recolonize downstream reaches once conditions improve and serves as a tangible goal for project participants. The low number of successfully restored streams in agriculturally-intensive watersheds - despite decades of soil and water conservation implementation - suggests that the nature and extent of past pollution-reduction interventions have been insufficient or inappropriate. We believe extensive aggregation of appropriate agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs), combined with durable engagement by farmers over multiple generations, will be necessary to secure measurable improvements in the physical, chemical and biological parameters of an impaired stream. Project partners have encouraged community investment in the project by highlighting local leadership and collaborative innovation. Participating farmers have gradually implemented extensive BMPs that include improved barnyard and field management practices and riparian forested buffers. Stream results are shared with the community to educate them about the benefits of their shared actions. The stream without forested headwaters showed no improvement, but BMPs are still being implemented. The stream with the forested headwaters showed greatest improvements upstream, and smaller improvements downstream. The limited recovery of pollution-sensitive species downstream of the forested areas is clear evidence that downstream stressors still remain.

Lamonte Garber (Primary Presenter/Author), Stroud Water Research Center, lgarber@stroudcenter.org;

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

Matt Ehrhart (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Stroud Water Research Center, mehrhart@sroudcenter.org;

10:45 - 11:00 | Freedom Ballroom E | LESS IS LESS. A 20 YEAR STUDY HIGHLIGHTS THE REQUIREMENTS OF RIPARIAN BUFFERS TO WORK IN AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES

6/04/2024  |   10:45 - 11:00   |  Freedom Ballroom E

LESS is LESS. A 20 year study highlights the requirements of riparian buffers to work in agricultural landscapes Starting in 1999, Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been implemented on 3 streams (9-31 km2 watersheds) in the Chesapeake Bay drainage in an effort to measure their benefits in agricultural settings. There are 3-4 sampling locations on each stream and riparian buffers that fence out livestock, while considered progressive 20 years ago, are described by today standards as very narrow (<35 ft). Results have been mixed. Stream #1 was considered a reference area upstream because it was protected by an unchanged forested area. After >20 years, the downstream site has shown no change in chemistry or macroinvertebrate measures likely due to incised banks and poor benthic substrate. Stream #2 indicated some improvements at the most headwater site but was considered a failure downstream since the BMPs were considered too small to create a change. Efforts to improve this stream were further complicated by extreme unplanned disturbances (dam failure and sinkhole). Stream #3 has shown some minor improvements at the upstream sites. Positive correlations between macroinvertebrate metrics and discharge suggest high flow events are beneficial because they remove fine sediments. However, increases in residential, commercial, and agricultural land use in the watershed suggest these improvements will not continue as these older BMPs become overwhelmed. This study highlights the long-term investment required by land owners and the need for extensive buffers if streams in agricultural landscapes are to improve.

Juliann Battle (Primary Presenter/Author), Stroud Water Research Center, jbattle@stroudcenter.org;

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

David Wise (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Stroud Water Research Center, dwise@stroudcenter.org;

Matt Ehrhart (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Stroud Water Research Center, mehrhart@sroudcenter.org;

11:00 - 11:15 | Freedom Ballroom E | LONG-TERM DYNAMICS IN A REFORESTED STREAM – A STUDY OF RIPARIAN RESTORATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE

6/04/2024  |   11:00 - 11:15   |  Freedom Ballroom E

LONG-TERM DYNAMICS IN A REFORESTED STREAM – A STUDY OF RIPARIAN RESTORATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE The role/value of riparian forests has been a popular subject of study and discussion for decades, but little is known about how quickly and to what degree the attributes of a forested stream are recovered following the reestablishment of the riparian forest. We assessed changes in litterfall, water temperature, channel width, sediment size, and macroinvertebrates over 20+ years from a 250-m section of meadow stream that was replanted with trees in 1995, and from a nearby stream reach flowing through a mature (>100 years old, managed) forest. At the forest site, annual litterfall decreased, water temperature increased, channel width and sediment size changed little, and relative abundance of scrapers/collector gatherers, collector filterers, and predators increased. This forest stream changed ecologically more than expected. At the reforested site, annual litterfall now exceeds the forest site, water temperature changed little, channel width and sediment size increased, and relative abundance of shredders and scrapers increased while collector filterers, scrapers/collector gatherers, collector filterers, and predators decreased. Over >25 years, the best management practice of reestablishing a riparian forest has restored litter inputs, remediated most of the temperature increase associated with climate change, improved geomorphic characteristics, and resulted in a macroinvertebrate assemblage that is much more similar to a mature-forest stream. Thus, riparian forest restoration has measurable ecological benefits, in spite of the unexpected dynamics in the stream and climate change.

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

Melinda Daniels (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Stroud Water Research Center, mdaniels@stroudcenter.org;

J. Denis Newbold (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Stroud Water Research Center, newbold@stroudcenter.org ;

Louis Kaplan (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Stroud Water Research Center, lakaplan@stroudcenter.org;

Bernard Sweeney (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Stroud Water Research Center, sweeney@stroudcenter.org;

11:15 - 11:30 | Freedom Ballroom E | PROCESS-BASED RESTORATION EFFECTIVELY ALTERS RIPARIAN PLANT AND ARTHROPOD COMMUNITY STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION

6/04/2024  |   11:15 - 11:30   |  Freedom Ballroom E

PROCESS-BASED RESTORATION EFFECTIVELY ALTERS RIPARIAN PLANT AND ARTHROPOD COMMUNITY STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION Ecological restoration has long attempted to recover populations, communities, and ecosystems using structural interventions. These treatments often fail to achieve desired outcomes, resulting in a shift to process-based restoration (PBR). In streams, PBR aims to reestablish natural hydrogeomorphic conditions by raising water tables, retaining sediment and runoff, and increasing overbank flooding. PBR treatments like beaver dam analogs (BDAs) and plug and ponds (P&Ps) are being applied across many landscapes; however, implementation outpaced field verification of outcomes and effectiveness. We report on a before-after-control-impact study and Bayesian analysis to determine the probability that BDAs and P&Ps affected riparian plant functional diversity and composition, as well as arthropod community composition. We found high probability that BDAs and P&Ps altered functional diversity and shifted the streamside plant community to one that is more riparian in nature. Changes in community-weighted traits such as anaerobic tolerance, moisture use, and rooting depth suggest treatments raised water tables and increased overbank flooding. Additionally, we found high probabilities of change in population densities of arthropod species associated with riparian vegetation and wet zones. These results indicate BDAs and P&Ps effectively recover hydrogeomorphic processes and thereby alter streamside biotic communities in a short timeframe. PBR appears to rapidly shift abiotic filters in valley bottoms and is an effective tool for achieving management goals related to restoring degraded streams and reestablishing lost or extensively altered riparian ecosystems.

Katelyn Driscoll (Primary Presenter/Author), US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, katelyn.driscoll@usda.gov;

Laurel Martinez (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of New Mexico, lfmartinez@unm.edu;

Nicole Roberts (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, nicole.roberts@usda.gov;

Thomas Turner (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of New Mexico, turnert@unm.edu;

11:30 - 11:45 | Freedom Ballroom E | DEFINING AND QUANTIFYING STRESS/DISTURBANCE GRADIENTS FOR YOUNG WETLANDS FORMING IN RECLAIMED OIL SANDS LANDSCAPES

6/04/2024  |   11:30 - 11:45   |  Freedom Ballroom E

DEFINING AND QUANTIFYING STRESS/DISTURBANCE GRADIENTS FOR YOUNG WETLANDS FORMING IN RECLAIMED OIL SANDS LANDSCAPES Northeastern Alberta’s oil sands region is dominated by a mosaic of wetlands and peatlands, reflecting hydrology, topography and successional processes operating since the last glaciation. Mining companies have created reclaimed watersheds in the post-mining landscape that harbour seemingly productive and biodiverse wetlands. However, methods of assessing the effectiveness or ‘functionality’ of wetland reclamation are lacking, especially during early succession. We sampled a chronosequence of wetlands as a proof of concept of the Reclamation Assessment Approach to document environmental stress-biological response relationships in young wetlands and assess how these relationships change as wetlands mature. Our goal is to develop quantitative biological indices of ‘success’ that could potentially be used as benchmarks of wetlands’ early stages of succession. We assessed hydrology and water chemistry, and surveyed or sampled biota in 120 newly-formed wetlands (age 2-40 years) in oil sands mine lease reclaimed landscapes and in adjacent reference regions. We wished to delineate the range of natural variation (gradient) of each of 3 principal classes of environmental stress against which to document the community composition and track successional patterns of 3 types of biota (aquatic invertebrates, vegetation and avifauna). We derived composite measures of stress representing indices of “wetland permanence” (inferred from tracking wetland size (area & depth) within and among years, and water balance (evaporation/ transpiration vs. surface/groundwater input ratios inferred from stable isotope ratios)), “water quality” (concentrations and relative composition of cations, anions, nutrients and organic compounds), and “landscape disturbance” (integrating drone-surveyed setting, local topography, vegetation, surrounding physical disturbances).

Jan Ciborowski (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Calgary, jan.ciborowski@ucalgary.ca;

Michael Wendlandt (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, michael.wendlandt@ucalgary.ca;

Ashlee Mombourquette (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, ashlee.mombourquette@ucalgary.ca;

Elizabeth Gillis (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, elizabeth.gillis@ucalgary.ca;

Hannah Porter (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, hannah.porter@ucalgary.ca;

Mustafiz Rahman (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, mmrahm@ucalgary.ca;

Sean Leng (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Windsor, lengb@uwindsor.ca;

Evan Bishko (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, evan.bishko1@ucalgary.ca;

Hunter Jackson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, hunter.jackson@ucalgary.ca;

Maverick Fong (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, kwokkei.fong@ucalgary.ca;

Malcolm McLeod (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, malcolm.mcleod@ucalgary.ca;

Arden Ogilvie (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, arden.ogilvie1@ucalgary.ca;

Genevieve Rodrigues (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, genevieve.rodrigues@ucalgary.ca;

Sydney Trimming (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, sydney.trimming@ucalgary.ca;

Veronica Dvorak (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, veronica.dvorak@ucalgary.ca;

Andy Yu (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, andy.yu1@ucalgary.ca;

Jean Birks (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Calgary, jean.birks@ucalgary.ca;

Christopher Weisner (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Windsor, weisner@ucalgary.ca;

Jabed Tomal (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Thompson Rivers University, jtomal@tru.ca;

Ian Vander Meulen (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Environment and Climate Change Canada, ian.vandermeulen2@ec.gc.ca;

John Headley (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Environment and Climate Change Canada, john.headley@canada.ca;

11:45 - 12:00 | Freedom Ballroom E | RESTORING FLOODPLAIN FISH COMMUNITIES: A GLOBAL ANALYSIS OF OPTIONS AND THEIR OUTCOMES

6/04/2024  |   11:45 - 12:00   |  Freedom Ballroom E

RESTORING FLOODPLAIN FISH COMMUNITIES: A GLOBAL ANALYSIS OF OPTIONS AND THEIR OUTCOMES Floodplain wetlands are an iconic feature of lowland rivers, yet despite this status, in most regulated rivers systems the loss of regular (often annual) flooding due to river regulation, coupled with agricultural land-clearing and levee bank construction has isolated wetlands from rivers, greatly reducing their extent and permanency. Such changes have had profound impacts on associated plant and animal communities, with reductions in native species diversity and abundance and an increase in non-native species. Major efforts are now underway to try and restore floodplain wetlands globally through environmental flows and floodplain engineering, however few studies have examined whether such efforts are successful. We reviewed the literature on floodplain restoration outcomes, focussing on floodplain fish assemblages. We highlight gaps in the literature, as well as the reported outcomes where approaches have been implemented and monitored. A key finding is the differences in approach being implemented in different regions, which reflect differences in human interactions with river-floodplain systems as well as constraints on the feasibility of different restoration strategies. Our findings highlight potential lessons to be gleaned from examining restoration strategies being implemented across different regions, as well as opportunities for future research on these important ecosystems. 

Nick Bond (Primary Presenter/Author), La Trobe University, n.bond@latrobe.edu.au;