Conservation and Management
Author(s): Aaron A. Moore and Margaret A. Palmer
Source: Ecological Applications, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Aug., 2005), pp. 1169-1177
Published by: Ecological Society of America
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4543427 .
Accessed: 21/05/2014 15:28
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15(4), 2005, pp. 1169-1177
© 2005 by the Ecological Society of America
INVERTEBRATE BIODIVERSITY IN AGRICULTURAL AND URBAN
HEADWATER STREAMS: IMPLICATIONS FOR
CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT
AARON A. MOORE1 AND MARGARET
Behavior, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics Program and the Department of Entomology, University of Maryland,
College Park, Maryland 20742 USA
Abstract. The urbanization of agricultural lands is currently one of the dominant patterns of land use change in developed countries. In the United States and parts of Europe, this has led to the implementation of agricultural land preservation programs and riparian protection and replanting efforts along urban streams. The ecological benefits of such programs for the conservation of freshwater biodiversity have yet to be fully explored. We designed a study to investigate the patterns of stream macroinvertebrate community structure along a gradient of agriculture to urban development, and the patterns among urban streams that vary in the amount of intact riparian buffer. In 2001 and 2002, we sampled the 29 small headwater streams comprising the outlying tributaries of four watersheds just north of Washington, D.C., in Montgomery County, Maryland, USA. This region has had dramatic urban development over the last 50 years, yet significant efforts have been made to maintain riparian buffers and promote preservation of agricultural land.
Macroinvertebrate richness was strongly related to land use, with agricultural streams exhibiting the highest macroinvertebrate diversity. Taxa richness was related negatively and linearly (no statistical threshold) to the amount of impervious surface cover. For the urban streams, there was a strong positive relationship between invertebrate diversity and riparian forest cover. Urban streams with high amounts of intact riparian forest exhibited biodiversity levels more comparable to less urban areas despite high amounts of impervious cover in their catchments. The agricultural headwater streams in this study were not only more diverse than the urban headwaters, but their levels of macroinvertebrate diversity were high compared to other published estimates for agricultural streams. These higher richness values may be due to widespread use of "best management practices" (BMPs), including no-till farming and the implementation of woody and herbaceous riparian buffers, which may alleviate many acute stressors caused by cultivation. These findings suggest that, if managed properly, the preservation of agricultural land from development may help conserve stream invertebrate biodiversity, and that maintenance of riparian forests even in highly urbanized watersheds may help alleviate ecological disturbances that might