Riparian zones are important contributors to stream ecosystem health. Alteration of such areas can change stream structure and function, resulting in modified productivity and hydrologic patterns. We studied two riffle sites on the South Fork of the Spring River in Fulton County, AR upstream and downstream of a streambank ostensibly degraded by unrestricted cattle access. The two sites were measured for differences in physical habitat (including bank width, stream velocity, depth, substrate composition, and embeddedness), chemical characteristics (including dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, turbidity and total suspended solids) and biological characteristics (including benthic macroinvertebrate community composition, similarity, and standing crop). Measurements were conducted quarterly for one year. We found embeddedness, total suspended solids and turbidity to be significantly higher downstream of the cattle access area. Community metrics were similar for both sites; however, macroinvertebrate standing crop was lower downstream. These results suggest moderate differences in stream productivity downstream of the cattle access site. Future work will evaluate whether reduced cattle access and streambank stabilization efforts result in improvements in water quality and density of macroinvertebrates.
Johnson, Ronald L.; Ward, Daniel D.; and Grippo, Richard S.
"Physicochemical Characteristics and Macroinvertebrate Assemblages of Riffles Upstream and Downstream of a Streambank Impacted by Unrestricted Cattle Access,"
Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 54
, Article 13.
Available at: http://scholarworks.uark.edu/jaas/vol54/iss1/13