Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Amy Braccia

Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Abstract

The practice of stream restoration is well underway in the U.S., but there are few quantitative post-restoration studies of macroinvertebrate communities in restored streams in Kentucky. Slabcamp Creek, a first order tributary within the Licking River Basin, was recently restored to improve hydrology and degraded habitat caused by historical land use. The primary goal of my study was to begin baseline studies of the macroinvertebrate community in the restored section of Slabcamp Creek and to compare those findings to White Pine Branch (a pre-restoration control site) during the first post-restoration year. Specific objectives of my study were to: 1) report seasonal estimates of macroinvertebrate abundance and biomass from riffles, 2) describe the macroinvertebrate community structure from riffles, and 3) measure channel habitat at the study sites. Results from habitat measures indicated that, during low base flow, both channels lost wetted habitat, but the difference in wetted habitat lost between spring and summer was greater at White Pine Branch than Slabcamp Creek. Relative to White Pine Branch, Slabcamp Creek had more large woody debris, less canopy cover, and greater amounts of fine sediments and no bedrock. Macroinvertebrates were collected from five riffles in each stream with a bottom area sampler during fall 2011, winter 2012, and spring 2012. Repeated measures ANOVA indicated greater macroinvertebrate abundance and biomass at Slabcamp Creek, but no difference in taxa richness was detected between streams. Community metrics based on absolute abundance revealed greater abundance of EPT taxa, scrapers/grazer, clingers, slow seasonal developers, taxa with a large body size at maturity, and low rheophilic taxa at Slabcamp Creek. Finally, patterns from multivariate ordinations showed more seasonal variation in macroinvertebrate community composition at White Pine Branch. Overall findings from this study suggest that differences in macroinvertebrate communities between streams during the first post-restoration year likely resulted from improved hydrology, channel bed stability, and benthic food resources associated with the restoration practices at Slabcamp Creek.

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