USGS Washington Water Science Center
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The primary objective of the Nutrient Enrichment Effects Team study (NEET) is to determine how biological communities and processes respond to varying levels of nutrient enrichment among agricultural streams and contrasting environmental settings within the CCYK study unit as well as across the United States.
Existing data will be used to initially characterize agricultural practices, hydrologic conditions, nutrients, and biological communities. In order to understand the influence of nutrients to biological systems, this study will address how nutrients interact with both biological communities and processes through 3 venues of study: a large scale study of community structure; a multi-scale community function study based on stream metabolism; and a regionalization study.
To study the community structure, several sites in the CCYK study unit as well as other study units across the country that reflect a range of nutrient conditions will be selected. The range of nutrient conditions will be based on existing NAWQA data. This design will permit us to determine the interaction of biological communities (algae, macrophytes, invertebrates) to nutrient conditions among varying agricultural settings.
To study the community function, two methods will be implemented. The first component will address stream metabolism and nutrient conditions at a large scale by collecting the data at many sites. The second component will be done at a single site in each study unit, which will allow us to determine how community function (stream metabolism, nutrient uptake, response) and nutrient processing interrelate.
Regionalization will center on the extrapolation from the study findings of other sites. While this will require some new data, it will rely heavily on the synthesis of regional data collected from the studies of community function and community structure. This will provide critical information to the EPA and other management agencies in their development and implementation of nutrient criteria.
NEET will also perform a series of additional studies that will provide a more complete understanding of nutrients and biological communities in agricultural streams. These additional components include: assessing the use of artificial substrates; determining the influence of seasonality on nutrient-community interactions; determining the degree to which nutrients are limited in agricultural streams; and whether there are differences in food-webs due to nutrient conditions and habitat complexity.