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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

A Case-Study Application of the Experimental Watershed Study Design to Advance Adaptive Management of Contemporary Watersheds

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West Virginia University, Institute of Water Security and Science, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, Schools of Agriculture and Food, and Natural Resources, 3109 Agricultural Sciences Building, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
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West Virginia University, Institute of Water Security and Science, Davis College of Agriculture Natural Resources and Design, Division of Plant and Soil Sciences, 3011 Agricultural Sciences Building, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
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School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, 203-T ABNR Building, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(11), 2355; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11112355 (registering DOI)
Received: 14 September 2019 / Revised: 30 October 2019 / Accepted: 6 November 2019 / Published: 9 November 2019
Land managers are often inadequately informed to make management decisions in contemporary watersheds, in which sources of impairment are simultaneously shifting due to the combined influences of land use change, rapid ongoing human population growth, and changing environmental conditions. There is, thus, a great need for effective collaborative adaptive management (CAM; or derivatives) efforts utilizing an accepted methodological approach that provides data needed to properly identify and address past, present, and future sources of impairment. The experimental watershed study design holds great promise for meeting such needs and facilitating an effective collaborative and adaptive management process. To advance understanding of natural and anthropogenic influences on sources of impairment, and to demonstrate the approach in a contemporary watershed, a nested-scale experimental watershed study design was implemented in a representative, contemporary, mixed-use watershed located in Midwestern USA. Results identify challenges associated with CAM, and how the experimental watershed approach can help to objectively elucidate causal factors, target critical source areas, and provide the science-based information needed to make informed management decisions. Results show urban/suburban development and agriculture are primary drivers of alterations to watershed hydrology, streamflow regimes, transport of multiple water quality constituents, and stream physical habitat. However, several natural processes and watershed characteristics, such as surficial geology and stream system evolution, are likely compounding observed water quality impairment and aquatic habitat degradation. Given the varied and complicated set of factors contributing to such issues in the study watershed and other contemporary watersheds, watershed restoration is likely subject to physical limitations and should be conceptualized in the context of achievable goals/objectives. Overall, results demonstrate the immense, globally transferrable value of the experimental watershed approach and coupled CAM process to address contemporary water resource management challenges. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban watershed management; municipal watershed; water quality impairment; collaborative adaptive management; water resources; urban watersheds urban watershed management; municipal watershed; water quality impairment; collaborative adaptive management; water resources; urban watersheds
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Hubbart, J.A.; Kellner, E.; Zeiger, S.J. A Case-Study Application of the Experimental Watershed Study Design to Advance Adaptive Management of Contemporary Watersheds. Water 2019, 11, 2355.

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