Matching Items (33)

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Quantifying Whole-Reach Denitrification in Arizona Streams

Description

Elevated nitrate (NO3-) concentration in streams and rivers has contributed to environmental problems such as downstream eutrophication and loss of biodiversity. Sycamore Creek in Arizona is nitrogen limited, but previous studies have demonstrated high potential for denitrification, a microbial process

Elevated nitrate (NO3-) concentration in streams and rivers has contributed to environmental problems such as downstream eutrophication and loss of biodiversity. Sycamore Creek in Arizona is nitrogen limited, but previous studies have demonstrated high potential for denitrification, a microbial process in which biologically active NO3- is reduced to relatively inert dinitrogen (N2) gas. Oak Creek is similarly nitrogen limited, but NO3- concentration in reaches surrounded by agriculture can be double that of other reaches. We employed a denitrification enzyme assay (DEA) to compare potential denitrification rate between differing land uses in Oak Creek and measured whole system N2 flux using a membrane inlet mass spectrometer to compare differences in actual denitrification rates at Sycamore and Oak Creek. We anticipated that NO3- would be an important limiting factor for denitrifiers; consequentially, agricultural land use reaches within Oak Creek would have the highest potential denitrification rate. We expected in situ denitrification rate to be higher in Oak Creek than Sycamore Creek due to elevated NO3- concentration, higher discharge, and larger streambed surface area. DEA results are forthcoming, but analysis of potassium chloride (KCl) extraction data showed that there were no significant differences between sites in sediment extractable NO3- on either a dry mass or organic mass basis. Whole-reach denitrification rate was inconclusive in Oak Creek, and though a significant positive flux in N2 from upstream to downstream was measured in Sycamore Creek, the denitrification rate was not significantly different from 0 after accounting for reaeration, suggesting that denitrification does not account for a significant portion of the NO3- uptake in Sycamore Creek. Future work is needed to address the specific factors limiting denitrification in this system.

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2018-05

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Urban Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: A Comparative Study

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This project examines a complex issue in urban ecology: the impact of biodiversity on ecosystem services, and considers how this varies across cities. Data were gathered on multiple economic and ecological parameters for a selection of seven cities around the

This project examines a complex issue in urban ecology: the impact of biodiversity on ecosystem services, and considers how this varies across cities. Data were gathered on multiple economic and ecological parameters for a selection of seven cities around the world and analyzed via multiple linear regression in order to assess any relationships that may be at play. Significance values were then calculated to further define the relationships between the data. Analysis found that both biophysical and socioeconomic factors affected ecosystem services, although not all hypotheses regarding these relationships were met. Conclusions indicate that this model was fairly effective in describing physical drivers of ecosystem services, but were not as clear regarding social drivers. Further study regarding social parameters' effect on ecosystem services is recommended.

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2014-05

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A Study of Soil Characteristics across an Arid, Urban Landscape and their Relationship with Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Description

The heterogeneous nature of urban systems is a documented phenomenon that can potentially cause widespread changes in soil characteristics across urban habitat type. These differences in soil characteristics may be linked to hot spots within the city of greenhouse gas

The heterogeneous nature of urban systems is a documented phenomenon that can potentially cause widespread changes in soil characteristics across urban habitat type. These differences in soil characteristics may be linked to hot spots within the city of greenhouse gas (N2O, CO2, CH4) emissions, which have the potential to affect global climate. The purpose of this study was to take an in depth look at how soil characteristics (i.e. soil moisture, organic matter, and inorganic nitrogen) vary across the urban Phoenix landscape and how these differing landscape characteristics can potentially create hot spots of greenhouse gas emissions. We measured greenhouse gas emissions and soil characteristics from ten different landscape types during the summer and fall of 2013 and included a wetting experiment to simulate flooding events in the desert. Using statistical analyses we found that all soil characteristics varied significantly based on both season and land-use type. In addition, land-use types could be clustered into recognizable groups based on their soil characteristics, with the presence of irrigation being a strong deciding factor in how the groups were arranged. However, N2O emissions did not vary significantly based on season, land-use type, or the presence of a wetting experiment. Patterns reinforce the heterogeneous nature of the Phoenix urban area and suggest that N2O emissions may not relate to soil characteristics and habitat designations (i.e. human land use) in the way that we originally predicted.

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2015-05

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Community composition and nitrogen retention in an aridland wastewater treatment wetland

Description

City managers and policy makers are increasing looking to environmental systems to provide beneficial services for urban systems. Constructed wetland systems (CWS), highly managed and designed wetland ecosystems, are being utilized to remove pollution, particularly excess nitrogen (N), from treated

City managers and policy makers are increasing looking to environmental systems to provide beneficial services for urban systems. Constructed wetland systems (CWS), highly managed and designed wetland ecosystems, are being utilized to remove pollution, particularly excess nitrogen (N), from treated wastewater. Various wetland process remove N from effluent, such as denitrification, direct plant uptake, and soil accumulation. Emergent macrophytes provide direct uptake of N and improve conditions for microbially-mediated N processing. The role of different macrophytes species, however, is less understood and has primarily been examined in mesocosm and microcosm experiments and in mesic environments. I examined the effects of community composition on N removal and processing at the whole ecosystem scale in an aridland, constructed wetland (42 ha) through: 1) quantifying above- and belowground biomass and community composition from July 2011 \u2014 November 2012 using a non-destructive allometric technique, and; 2) quantifying macrophyte N content and direct macrophyte N uptake over the 2012 growing season. Average peak biomass in July 2011 & 2012 was 2,930 g dw/m2 and 2,340 g dw/m2, respectively. Typha spp. (Typha domingensis and Typha latifolia) comprised the majority (approximately 2/3) of live aboveground biomass throughout the sampling period. No statistically significant differences were observed in macrophyte N content among the six species present, with an overall average of 1.68% N in aboveground tissues and 1.29% N in belowground tissues. Per unit area of wetland, Typha spp. retained the most N (22 g/m2); total N retained by all species was 34 g/m2. System-wide direct plant N uptake was markedly lower than N input to the system and thus represented a small portion of system N processing. Soil accumulation of N also played a minor role, leaving denitrification as the likely process responsible for the majority of system N processing. Based on a literature review, macrophyte species composition likely influences denitrification through oxygen diffusion into soils and through the quality and quantity of carbon in leaf litter. While this study and the literature indicates Typha spp. may be the best species to promote wetland N processing, other considerations (e.g., bird habitat) and conditions (e.g., type of wastewater being treated) likely make mixed stands of macrophytes preferable in many applications. Additionally, this study demonstrated the importance of urban wetlands as scientific laboratories for scientists of all ages and as excellent stepping-off points for experiments of science-policy discourse.

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2013-05

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The response of macroinvertebrate richness and functional diversity to climate-related disturbance patterns in desert streams

Description

Aquatic macroinvertebrates are important for many ecological processes within river ecosystems and, as a result, their abundance and diversity are considered indicators of water quality and ecosystem health. Macroinvertebrates can be classified into functional feeding groups (FFG) based on

Aquatic macroinvertebrates are important for many ecological processes within river ecosystems and, as a result, their abundance and diversity are considered indicators of water quality and ecosystem health. Macroinvertebrates can be classified into functional feeding groups (FFG) based on morphological-behavioral adaptations. FFG ratios can shift due to changes in normal disturbance patterns, such as changes in precipitation, and from human impact. Due to their increased sensitivity to environmental changes, it has become more important to protect and monitor aquatic and riparian communities in arid regions as climate change continues to intensify. Therefore, the diversity and richness of macroinvertebrate FFGs before and after monsoon and winter storm seasons were analyzed to determine the effect of flow-related disturbances. Ecosystem size was also considered, as watershed area has been shown to affect macroinvertebrate diversity. There was no strong support for flow-related disturbance or ecosystem size on macroinvertebrate diversity and richness. This may indicate a need to explore other parameters of macroinvertebrate community assembly. Establishing how disturbance affects aquatic macroinvertebrate communities will provide a key understanding as to what the stream communities will look like in the future, as anthropogenic impacts continue to affect more vulnerable ecosystems.

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2020-05

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The effects of interannual precipitation variability on the functioning of grasslands

Description

Climate change will result not only in changes in the mean state of climate but also on changes in variability. However, most studies of the impact of climate change on ecosystems have focused on the effect of changes in the

Climate change will result not only in changes in the mean state of climate but also on changes in variability. However, most studies of the impact of climate change on ecosystems have focused on the effect of changes in the central tendency. The broadest objective of this thesis was to assess the effects of increased interannual precipitation variation on ecosystem functioning in grasslands. In order to address this objective, I used a combination of field experimentation and data synthesis. Precipitation manipulations on the field experiments were carried out using an automated rainfall manipulation system developed as part of this dissertation. Aboveground net primary production responses were monitored during five years. Increased precipitation coefficient of variation decreased primary production regardless of the effect of precipitation amount. Perennial-grass productivity significantly decreased while shrub productivity increased as a result of enhanced precipitation variance. Most interesting is that the effect of precipitation variability increased through time highlighting the existence of temporal lags in ecosystem response.

Further, I investigated the effect of precipitation variation on functional diversity on the same experiment and found a positive response of diversity to increased interannual precipitation variance. Functional evenness showed a similar response resulting from large changes in plant-functional type relative abundance including decreased grass and increased shrub cover while functional richness showed non-significant response. Increased functional diversity ameliorated the direct negative effects of precipitation variation on ecosystem ANPP but did not control ecosystem stability where indirect effects through the dominant plant-functional type determined ecosystem stability.

Analyses of 80 long-term data sets, where I aggregated annual productivity and precipitation data into five-year temporal windows, showed that precipitation variance had a significant effect on aboveground net primary production that is modulated by mean precipitation. Productivity increased with precipitation variation at sites where mean annual precipitation is less than 339 mm but decreased at sites where precipitation is higher than 339 mm. Mechanisms proposed to explain patterns include: differential ANPP response to precipitation among sites, contrasting legacy effects and soil water distribution.

Finally, increased precipitation variance may impact global grasslands affecting plant-functional types in different ways that may lead to state changes, increased erosion and decreased stability that can in turn limit the services provided by these valuable ecosystems.

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Date Created
2014

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Food Webs Across the Stream-Riparian Boundary: Disentangling the Influence of Hydrologic Variability and Resource Dynamics

Description

Spatial and temporal patterns of biodiversity are shaped, in part, by the resources available to biota, the efficiency of resource transfer through the food web, and variation in environmental conditions. Stream and riparian zones are dynamic systems connected through reciprocal

Spatial and temporal patterns of biodiversity are shaped, in part, by the resources available to biota, the efficiency of resource transfer through the food web, and variation in environmental conditions. Stream and riparian zones are dynamic systems connected through reciprocal resource exchange and shaped by floods, droughts, and long-term patterns in the quantity, timing, and variability of streamflow (flow regime). The interdependent nature of the stream-riparian ecosystem defies the scope of any single discipline, requiring novel approaches to untangle the controls on ecological processes. In this dissertation, I explored multiple mechanisms through which streamflow and energy flow pathways maintain the community and trophic dynamics of desert stream and riparian food webs. I conducted seasonal sampling of Arizona streams on a gradient of flow regime variability to capture fluctuations in aquatic communities and ecosystem production. I found that flow regime shapes fish community structure and the trajectory of community response following short-term flow events by constraining the life history traits of communities, which fluctuate in prevalence following discrete events. Streamflow may additionally constrain the efficiency of energy flow from primary producers to consumers. I estimated annual food web efficiency and found that efficiency decreased with higher temperature and more variable flow regime. Surprisingly, fish production was not related to the rate of aquatic primary production. To understand the origin of resources supporting aquatic and riparian food webs, I studied the contribution of aquatic and terrestrial primary production to consumers in both habitats. I demonstrated that emergent insects “recycled” terrestrial primary production back to the riparian zone, reducing the proportion of aquatic primary production in emergent insect biomass and riparian predator diet. To expand the concept of stream and riparian zones as an integrated ecosystem connected by resource cycling through the food web, I introduced a quantitative framework describing reciprocal interconnections across spatial boundaries and demonstrated strong aquatic-riparian interdependencies along an Arizona river. In this dissertation, I develop a novel perspective on the stream-riparian ecosystem as an intertwined food web, which may be vulnerable to unforeseen impacts of global change if not considered in the context of streamflow and resource dynamics.

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Date Created
2021

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Denitrification in accidental urban wetlands: exploring the roles of water flows and plant patches

Description

Cities can be sources of nitrate to downstream ecosystems resulting in eutrophication, harmful algal blooms, and hypoxia that can have negative impacts on economies and human health. One potential solution to this problem is to increase nitrate removal in cities

Cities can be sources of nitrate to downstream ecosystems resulting in eutrophication, harmful algal blooms, and hypoxia that can have negative impacts on economies and human health. One potential solution to this problem is to increase nitrate removal in cities by providing locations where denitrification¬— a microbial process in which nitrate is reduced to N2 gas permanently removing nitrate from systems— can occur. Accidental urban wetlands– wetlands that results from human activities, but are not designed or managed for any specific outcome¬– are one such feature in the urban landscape that could help mitigate nitrate pollution through denitrification.

The overarching question of this dissertation is: how do hydrology, soil conditions, and plant patches affect patterns of denitrification in accidental urban wetlands? To answer this question, I took a three-pronged approach using a combination of field and greenhouse studies. First, I examined drivers of broad patterns of denitrification in accidental urban wetlands. Second, I used a field study to test if plant traits influence denitrification indirectly by modifying soil resources. Finally, I examined how species richness and interactions between species influence nitrate retention and patterns of denitrification using both a field study and greenhouse experiment.

Hydroperiod of accidental urban wetlands mediated patterns of denitrification in response to monsoon floods and plant patches. Specifically, ephemeral wetlands had patterns of denitrification that were largely unexplained by monsoon floods or plant patches, which are common drivers of patterns of denitrification in non-urban wetlands. Several plant traits including belowground biomass, above- and belowground tissue chemistry and rooting depth influenced denitrification indirectly by changing soil organic matter or soil nitrate. However, several other plant traits also had significant direct relationships with denitrification, (i.e. not through the hypothesized indirect relationships through soil organic matter or soil nitrate). This means these plant traits were affecting another aspect of soil conditions not included in the analysis, highlighting the need to improve our understanding of how plant traits influence denitrification. Finally, increasing species richness did not increase nitrate retention or denitrification, but rather individual species had the greatest effects on nitrate retention and denitrification.

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Date Created
2016

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Sources and Decomposition of Dissolved Organic Matter in Desert Streams

Description

Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is an important part of aquatic foodwebs because it contains carbon, nitrogen, and other elements required by heterotrophic organisms. It has many sources that determine its molecular composition, nutrient content, and biological lability and in turn,

Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is an important part of aquatic foodwebs because it contains carbon, nitrogen, and other elements required by heterotrophic organisms. It has many sources that determine its molecular composition, nutrient content, and biological lability and in turn, influence whether it is retained and processed in the stream reach or exported downstream. I examined the composition of DOM from vascular wetland plants, filamentous algae, and riparian tree leaf litter in Sonoran Desert streams and its decomposition by stream microbes. I used a combination of field observations, in-situ experiments, and a manipulative laboratory incubation to test (1) how dominant primary producers influence DOM chemical composition and ecosystem metabolism at the reach scale and (2) how DOM composition and nitrogen (N) content control microbial decomposition and stream uptake of DOM. I found that differences in streamwater DOM composition between two distinct reaches of Sycamore Creek did not affect in-situ stream respiration and gross primary production rates. Stream sediment microbial respiration rates did not differ significantly when incubated in the laboratory with DOM from wetland plants, algae, and leaf litter, thus all sources were similarly labile. However, whole-stream uptake of DOM increased from leaf to algal to wetland plant leachate. Desert streams have the potential to process DOM from leaf, wetland, and algal sources, though algal and wetland DOM, due to their more labile composition, can be more readily retained and mineralized.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2018

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Direct and indirect ecological consequences of human activities in urban and native ecosystems

Description

Though cities occupy only a small percentage of Earth's terrestrial surface, humans concentrated in urban areas impact ecosystems at local, regional and global scales. I examined the direct and indirect ecological outcomes of human activities on both managed landscapes and

Though cities occupy only a small percentage of Earth's terrestrial surface, humans concentrated in urban areas impact ecosystems at local, regional and global scales. I examined the direct and indirect ecological outcomes of human activities on both managed landscapes and protected native ecosystems in and around cities. First, I used highly managed residential yards, which compose nearly half of the heterogeneous urban land area, as a model system to examine the ecological effects of people's management choices and the social drivers of those decisions. I found that a complex set of individual and institutional social characteristics drives people's decisions, which in turn affect ecological structure and function across scales from yards to cities. This work demonstrates the link between individuals' decision-making and ecosystem service provisioning in highly managed urban ecosystems.

Second, I examined the distribution of urban-generated air pollutants and their complex ecological outcomes in protected native ecosystems. Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), reactive nitrogen (N), and ozone (O3) are elevated near human activities and act as both resources and stressors to primary producers, but little is known about their co-occurring distribution or combined impacts on ecosystems. I investigated the urban "ecological airshed," including the spatial and temporal extent of N deposition, as well as CO2 and O3 concentrations in native preserves in Phoenix, Arizona and the outlying Sonoran Desert. I found elevated concentrations of ecologically relevant pollutants co-occur in both urban and remote native lands at levels that are likely to affect ecosystem structure and function. Finally, I tested the combined effects of CO2, N, and O3 on the dominant native and non-native herbaceous desert species in a multi-factor dose-response greenhouse experiment. Under current and predicted future air quality conditions, the non-native species (Schismus arabicus) had net positive growth despite physiological stress under high O3 concentrations. In contrast, the native species (Pectocarya recurvata) was more sensitive to O3 and, unlike the non-native species, did not benefit from the protective role of CO2. These results highlight the vulnerability of native ecosystems to current and future air pollution over the long term. Together, my research provides empirical evidence for future policies addressing multiple stressors in urban managed and native landscapes.

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Date Created
2014