Consequences of livestock grazing on water quality and Benthic algal biomass in a Canadian natural grassland plateau

You are viewing information about the paper Consequences of livestock grazing on water quality and Benthic algal biomass in a Canadian natural grassland plateau.

Journal: Environ Manage 2002/05/07
Published: 2002
Authors: Scrimgeour, G. J.;Kendall, S.
Address: Forest Resources Business Unit, Alberta Research Council, P.O. Bag 4000, Vegreville, Alberta, Canada T9C 1T4. gscrimgeour@arc.ab.ca

The effects of livestock grazing on selected riparian and stream attributes, water chemistry, and algal biomass were investigated over a two-year period using livestock enclosures and by completing stream surveys in the Cypress Hills grassland plateau, Alberta, Canada. Livestock enclosure experiments, partially replicated in three streams, comprised four treatments: (1) early season livestock grazing (June-August), (2) late season livestock grazing (August-September), (3) all season grazing (June-September), and (4) livestock absent controls. Livestock grazing significantly decreased streambank stability, biomass of riparian vegetation, and the extent to which aquatic vegetation covered the stream channels compared with livestock-absent controls. Water quality comparisons indicated significant differences among the four livestock grazing treatments in Battle and Graburn creeks but not in Nine Mile Creek. In Graburn Creek, the concentration of total phosphorus in the all-season livestock grazing treatment was significantly higher than that in the livestock-absent control, and the early season and late season grazing treatments. Concentrations of soluble reactive phosphorus in the all-season livestock grazing treatment also exceeded that in livestock-absent control. In contrast, differences in water quality variables in the remaining 22 comparisons (i.e., 22 of the total 24 comparisons) were minor even when differences were statistically significant. Effects of livestock grazing on algal biomass were variable, and there was no consistent pattern among creeks. At the watershed scale, spatial variation in algal biomass was related (P < 0.05) with concentrations of NO(2)(-) + NO(3) (-) and soluble reactive phosphorus in two of the four study creeks. Nutrient diffusing substrata experiments showed that algal communities were either nitrogen-limited or not limited by nutrients, depending on stream and season.

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