Effects of Ski Slopes on Appalachian Headwater Streams

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kathryn Rifenburg (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Michael Gangloff

Abstract: Mountain ecosystems are increasingly stressed by human activities. Ski resorts and other winter recreation areas (WRAs) are popular in montane regions including the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Large-scale land clearing and water extraction associated with WRAs may alter stream physicochemical attributes, biota and ultimately function. I examined impacts of four WRAs on physicochemical parameters and invertebrates in eight streams in the mountains of North Carolina. I measured physicochemical parameters monthly, sampled invertebrates seasonally in 2011 and measured seasonal nutrient concentrations. Streams draining WRA-impacted catchments exhibited significantly elevated specific conductance and NO3- relative to control streams. Invertebrate data revealed lower total densities at all but one of the impacted streams (F = 42.6, p = 0.03) and higher total diversity at control streams (F = 5.1, p = 0.03). EPT H’ and total richness were positively correlated with open riparian land use. Water chemistry and habitat parameters exhibited more consistent responses to WRAs than did invertebrates. Increases in some invertebrate metrics suggest that headwater stream responses to land use changes may be buffered by adjoining forested reaches or catchments. The results of my study indicate that altered land use associated with WRAs may alter headwater stream communities and possibly ecosystem function.

Additional Information

Rifenburg, K.A. (2013). Effects of Ski Slopes on Appalachian Headwater Streams. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2013
Headwater streams, Machine made snow, Macroinvertebrates

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