Published: July 24th, 2016
There is a critical need for tools and methodologies capable of managing aquatic systems in the face of uncertain future conditions. We provide methods for conducting a targeted watershed assessment that enables resource managers to produce landscape-based cumulative effects models for use within a scenario analysis management framework.
There is a critical need for tools and methodologies capable of managing aquatic systems within heavily impacted watersheds. Current efforts often fall short as a result of an inability to quantify and predict complex cumulative effects of current and future land use scenarios at relevant spatial scales. The goal of this manuscript is to provide methods for conducting a targeted watershed assessment that enables resource managers to produce landscape-based cumulative effects models for use within a scenario analysis management framework. Sites are first selected for inclusion within the watershed assessment by identifying sites that fall along independent gradients and combinations of known stressors. Field and laboratory techniques are then used to obtain data on the physical, chemical, and biological effects of multiple land use activities. Multiple linear regression analysis is then used to produce landscape-based cumulative effects models for predicting aquatic conditions. Lastly, methods for incorporating cumulative effects models within a scenario analysis framework for guiding management and regulatory decisions (e.g., permitting and mitigation) within actively developing watersheds are discussed and demonstrated for 2 sub-watersheds within the mountaintop mining region of central Appalachia. The watershed assessment and management approach provided herein enables resource managers to facilitate economic and development activity while protecting aquatic resources and producing opportunity for net ecological benefits through targeted remediation.
Anthropogenic alteration of natural landscapes is among the greatest current threats to aquatic ecosystems throughout the world1. In many regions, continued degradation at current rates will result in irreparable damage to aquatic resources, ultimately limiting their capacity to provide invaluable and irreplaceable ecosystem services. Thus, there is a critical need for tools and methodologies capable of managing aquatic systems within developing watersheds2-3. This is particularly important given that managers are often tasked with conserving aquatic resources in the face of socioeconomic and political pressures to continue development activities....
1. Target Sites for Inclusion in Watershed Assessment
Forty 1:24,000 NHD catchments were selected as study sites within the Coal River, West Virginia (Figure 2). Study sites were selected to span a range influence from surface mining (% land area24), residential development [structure density (no./km2)], and underground mining [national pollution discharge elimination system (NPDES) permit density (no./km2)] such that each major land use activity occurred both in isolation and in combination .......
We provide a framework for assessing and managing cumulative effects of multiple land use activities in heavily impacted watersheds. The approach described herein addresses previously identified limitations associated with managing aquatic systems in heavily impacted watersheds5-6. Most notably, the targeted watershed assessment design (i.e., sampling along individual and combined stressor axes) produces data that are well suited for quantifying complex cumulative effects at relevant spatial scales (<.......
We thank the numerous field and laboratory helpers that were involved in various aspects of this work, especially Donna Hartman, Aaron Maxwell, Eric Miller, and Alison Anderson. Funding for this study was provided by the US Geological Survey through support from US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region III. This study was partially developed under the Science To Achieve Results Fellowship Assistance Agreement number FP-91766601-0 awarded by the US EPA. Although the research described in this article has been funded by the US EPA, it has not been subjected to the agency's required peer and policy review and, therefore, does not necessarily reflect the views ....
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