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Biology 2012, 1(3), 794-856; doi:10.3390/biology1030794

Managing Artificially Drained Low-Gradient Agricultural Headwaters for Enhanced Ecosystem Functions

1
Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS 39762, USA
2
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 October 2012 / Revised: 1 November 2012 / Accepted: 2 November 2012 / Published: 10 December 2012
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Abstract

Large tracts of lowlands have been drained to expand extensive agriculture into areas that were historically categorized as wasteland. This expansion in agriculture necessarily coincided with changes in ecosystem structure, biodiversity, and nutrient cycling. These changes have impacted not only the landscapes in which they occurred, but also larger water bodies receiving runoff from drained land. New approaches must append current efforts toward land conservation and restoration, as the continuing impacts to receiving waters is an issue of major environmental concern. One of these approaches is agricultural drainage management. This article reviews how this approach differs from traditional conservation efforts, the specific practices of drainage management and the current state of knowledge on the ecology of drainage ditches. A bottom-up approach is utilized, examining the effects of stochastic hydrology and anthropogenic disturbance on primary production and diversity of primary producers, with special regard given to how management can affect establishment of macrophytes and how macrophytes in agricultural landscapes alter their environment in ways that can serve to mitigate non-point source pollution and promote biodiversity in receiving waters. View Full-Text
Keywords: channelization; eutrophication; restoration; wetland; ditch; stream; agroecology; drainage; nonpoint source pollution channelization; eutrophication; restoration; wetland; ditch; stream; agroecology; drainage; nonpoint source pollution
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Pierce, S.C.; Kröger, R.; Pezeshki, R. Managing Artificially Drained Low-Gradient Agricultural Headwaters for Enhanced Ecosystem Functions . Biology 2012, 1, 794-856.

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