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Abstract

Benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) assessments indicate alterations in physical and/or chemical factors making them valuable tools when attempting to assess agricultural best management practices (BMPs). The purpose of this study was to obtain pre-BMP land cover and macroinvertebrate community data in order to characterize temporal and spatial variation in three catchments: Little Strawberry (LS), Greasy Creek (GC), and Sandy Creek (SC) of the Strawberry River Watershed, located in north central Arkansas, in order to establish baseline conditions. BMIs were collected for the three subwatersheds in 1995, 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2009. Taxa richness, Hilsenhoff Biotic Index (HBI) and Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera (EPT) score, % dominant taxa, and % Diptera were used as indicators of water quality and habitat changes. All subwatersheds experienced decreased forest land cover indicating land use transition. All resulting BMI measures indicate overall stable habitat and water conditions in the LS subwatershed. Results for GC subwatershed vary with taxa richness, EPT and HBI indicating a stable habitat while increasing % dominant taxa and Diptera indicate a decreasing trend in overall habitat quality. All BMI measures in the SC subwatershed indicate decreasing trend in habitat quality. The most sensitive measure to temporal changes was % Diptera. Trends were not consistent among subwatersheds indicating the importance of continued data collection to establish baseline data and truly monitor changes in aquatic systems over time.

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