Special Issue "Water Quality and Ecological Aspects of Aquatic Ecosystems Influenced by Agricultural Activity"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Aquatic Systems—Quality and Contamination".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 March 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Richard Lizotte
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
USDA ARS National Sedimentation Laboratory, Oxford, MS, USA
Interests: aquatic ecology; eutrophication; agricultural conservation practices; stream and lake restoration; wetland ecology; aquatic toxicology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agriculture is necessary for providing a growing population with food, fiber, and fuel. Agriculture itself is dependent on water and proper management of water resources, such as water quality. In agricultural watersheds, water quality is a key component to maintaining healthy aquatic ecosystems. Functional aquatic ecosystems provide valuable services such as habitat, nutrient cycling, and productivity. Despite recent advances in our understanding of agricultural impacts on water quality as well as mitigating those impacts, critical knowledge gaps continue to exist. We need to better understand links in changes in water quality and their broader ecological effects on aquatic ecosystems as a result of agricultural activity. This Special Issue seeks to highlight novel, innovative studies that utilize monitoring, modeling, or ecological asessment techniques to examine these linkages and predict the implications for water quality and aquatic ecosystems within agriculturally influenced watersheds. Contributions will preferably use a variety of techniques and will emphasize the innovative apects and generalizable insights derived from the study.

Dr. Richard Lizotte
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • conservation practices
  • ecology/ecosystem
  • biogeochemistry
  • eutrophication
  • nutrients
  • pesticides
  • sediments

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Article
Vegetation and Residence Time Interact to Influence Metabolism and Net Nutrient Uptake in Experimental Agricultural Drainage Systems
Water 2021, 13(10), 1416; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13101416 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 469
Abstract
Agricultural drainage networks within the Lower Mississippi River Basin (LMRB) have potential to attenuate nutrient loading to downstream aquatic ecosystems through best management practices. Nutrient uptake (nitrogen, phosphorus), gross primary production (GPP), ecosystem respiration (ER), and denitrification rates were estimated using a combination [...] Read more.
Agricultural drainage networks within the Lower Mississippi River Basin (LMRB) have potential to attenuate nutrient loading to downstream aquatic ecosystems through best management practices. Nutrient uptake (nitrogen, phosphorus), gross primary production (GPP), ecosystem respiration (ER), and denitrification rates were estimated using a combination of sensor measurements and hourly discrete samples for dissolved nutrients and gases at three hydraulic residence times (2, 4, and 6 h) in three vegetated and three unvegetated ditches. We also measured vegetation and soil nutrient content. GPP and ER were significantly higher in vegetated drainages and increasing hydraulic residence time increased respiration rates. Shorter hydraulic residence times were associated with increased uptake rates for both N and P, and vegetation increased N uptake rates in all hydraulic residence time (HRT) treatments. Vegetation and sediment assimilated N and P over the course of the experiment. Overall, our experimental results demonstrate the strong role of emergent vegetation in nutrient retention and removal processes in agricultural drainage ditch networks. Full article
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Article
Sediment Nutrient Flux Rates in a Shallow, Turbid Lake Are More Dependent on Water Quality Than Lake Depth
Water 2021, 13(10), 1344; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13101344 - 12 May 2021
Viewed by 341
Abstract
The bottom sediments of shallow lakes are an important nutrient sink; however, turbidity may alter the influence of water depth on sediment nutrient uptake by reducing light and associated oxic processes, or altering nutrient availability. This study assessed the relative influence of water [...] Read more.
The bottom sediments of shallow lakes are an important nutrient sink; however, turbidity may alter the influence of water depth on sediment nutrient uptake by reducing light and associated oxic processes, or altering nutrient availability. This study assessed the relative influence of water quality vs. water depth on sediment nutrient uptake rates in a shallow agricultural lake during spring, when sediment and nutrient loading are highest. Nitrate and soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) flux rates were measured from sediment cores collected across a depth and spatial gradient, and correlated to water quality. Overlying water depth and distance to shore did not influence rates. Both nitrate and SRP sediment uptake rates increased with greater Secchi depth and higher water temperature, and nitrate and SRP rates increased with lower water total N and total P, respectively. The importance of water temperature on N and P cycling was confirmed in an additional experiment; however, different patterns of nitrate reduction and denitrification suggest that alternative N2 production pathways may be important. These results suggest that water quality and temperature can be key drivers of sediment nutrient flux in a shallow, eutrophic, turbid lake, and water depth manipulation may be less important for maximizing spring runoff nutrient retention than altering water quality entering the lake. Full article
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Article
Long-Term Oxbow Lake Trophic State under Agricultural Best Management Practices
Water 2021, 13(8), 1123; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081123 - 20 Apr 2021
Viewed by 406
Abstract
A key principle of agricultural best management practices (BMPs) is to improve water quality by reducing agricultural-sourced nutrients and associated eutrophication. Long-term (1998–2016) lake summer trophic state index (TSI) trends of an agricultural watershed with agricultural best management practices (BMPs) were assessed. Structural [...] Read more.
A key principle of agricultural best management practices (BMPs) is to improve water quality by reducing agricultural-sourced nutrients and associated eutrophication. Long-term (1998–2016) lake summer trophic state index (TSI) trends of an agricultural watershed with agricultural best management practices (BMPs) were assessed. Structural BMPs included vegetative buffers, conservation tillage, conservation reserve, a constructed wetland, and a sediment retention pond. TSI included Secchi visibility (SD), chlorophyll a (Chl), total phosphorus (TP), and total nitrogen (TN). Summer TSI 1977 was >80 in 1998–1999 (hypertrophic) and decreased over the first 10 years to TSI 1977 ≈ 75 (eutrophic). TSI 1977 decrease and changing TSI deviations coincided with vegetative buffers, conservation tillage, and conservation reserve. The TSI(SD) decrease (>90 to <70) coincided with vegetative buffers and TSI(TP) decrease (>90 to <75) coincided primarily with conservation tillage and the sediment retention pond. TSI(Chl) increase (<60 to >70) coincided with conservation tillage and vegetative buffer. Results indicate watershed-wide BMPs can modestly decrease summer trophic state through increased water transparency and decreased TP, but these changes are off-set by increases in chlorophyll a to reach a new stable state within a decade. Future research should assess algal nutrient thresholds, internal nutrient loading, and climate change effects. Full article
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Article
Influence of Physical and Chemical Characteristics of Sediment on Macroinvertebrate Communities in Agricultural Headwater Streams
Water 2020, 12(11), 2976; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12112976 - 23 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1439
Abstract
Agricultural land use leads to changes in physical and chemical characteristics of sediment that influence macroinvertebrate community diversity and abundance in streams. To the best of our knowledge the joint influence of sediment’s physical and chemical characteristics on stream macroinvertebrates has not been [...] Read more.
Agricultural land use leads to changes in physical and chemical characteristics of sediment that influence macroinvertebrate community diversity and abundance in streams. To the best of our knowledge the joint influence of sediment’s physical and chemical characteristics on stream macroinvertebrates has not been assessed. We measured sediment’s physical and chemical characteristics and sampled macroinvertebrates in eight agricultural headwater streams in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, United States, in 2017 and 2018 to determine the physical and chemical conditions of the sediment, to evaluate the relationships between physical and chemical characteristics of the sediment, and the relationship of macroinvertebrate communities with the sediment’s physical and chemical characteristics. Sediments within most sites were dominated by sand or silt. pH was suitable for macroinvertebrates and nitrate, herbicide, and trace metal concentrations were below concentration levels anticipated to affect macroinvertebrate survival. Linear mixed effect model analysis results indicated that a physical gradient of percent small gravel and percent silt was positively correlated (p < 0.05) with a chemical gradient of potassium concentrations, magnesium concentrations, and percent total nitrogen in the sediments. Our linear mixed effect model analysis results also indicated that Invertebrate Community Index scores were negatively correlated (p < 0.05) with a chemical gradient of simazine and calcium concentrations and were negatively correlated (p < 0.05) with physical gradient of grain size diversity and percent sand. Our results suggest that watershed management plans need to address physical and chemical degradation of sediment to improve macroinvertebrate biotic integrity within agricultural headwater streams in the Midwestern United States. Full article
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Review

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Review
Agricultural Conservation Practices and Aquatic Ecological Responses
Water 2021, 13(12), 1687; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13121687 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 273
Abstract
Conservation agriculture practices (CAs) have been internationally promoted and used for decades to enhance soil health and mitigate soil loss. An additional benefit of CAs has been mitigation of agricultural runoff impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Countries across the globe have agricultural agencies that [...] Read more.
Conservation agriculture practices (CAs) have been internationally promoted and used for decades to enhance soil health and mitigate soil loss. An additional benefit of CAs has been mitigation of agricultural runoff impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Countries across the globe have agricultural agencies that provide programs for farmers to implement a variety of CAs. Increasingly there is a need to demonstrate that CAs can provide ecological improvements in aquatic ecosystems. Growing global concerns of lost habitat, biodiversity, and ecosystem services, increased eutrophication and associated harmful algal blooms are expected to intensify with increasing global populations and changing climate. We conducted a literature review identifying 88 studies linking CAs to aquatic ecological responses since 2000. Most studies were conducted in North America (78%), primarily the United States (73%), within the framework of the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project. Identified studies most frequently documented macroinvertebrate (31%), fish (28%), and algal (20%) responses to riparian (29%), wetland (18%), or combinations (32%) of CAs and/or responses to eutrophication (27%) and pesticide contamination (23%). Notable research gaps include better understanding of biogeochemistry with CAs, quantitative links between varying CAs and ecological responses, and linkages of CAs with aquatic ecosystem structure and function. Full article
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