Stream diurnal dissolved oxygen profiles as indicators of in-stream metabolism and disturbance effects: Fort Benning as a case study

Patrick J. Mulholland, Jeffrey N. Houser, Kelly O. Maloney
2005 Ecological Indicators  
We investigated whether two characteristics of stream diurnal dissolved oxygen profiles, the daily amplitude and maximum value of the dissolved oxygen saturation deficit, are useful indicators of stream metabolism and the effects of catchment-scale disturbances. The study was conducted at the U.S. Army's Fort Benning installation where vegetation loss and high rates of erosion from intensely used training areas and unpaved roads have resulted in extensive sedimentation in some streams. Diurnal
more » ... rofiles of dissolved oxygen were measured in 10 second-order streams draining catchments which exhibited a range of disturbance levels. Rates of gross primary production (GPP) and total ecosystem respiration (R) per unit surface area were determined for each stream using the single-station diurnal dissolved oxygen change method with direct measurement of airwater oxygen exchange rates. The daily amplitude of the diurnal dissolved oxygen deficit profile was highly correlated with daily rates of GPP, and multiplying the daily amplitude by average stream depth to account for differences in water volume did not improve the correlation. The daily maximum dissolved oxygen deficit was highly correlated with daily rates of R, and multiplying by average stream depth improved the correlation. In general, these indicators of stream metabolism declined sharply with increasing catchment disturbance level, although the indicators of R showed a more consistent relationship with disturbance level than those of GPP. Our results show that the daily amplitude and maximum value of diurnal dissolved oxygen deficit profiles are good indicators of reach-scale rates of metabolism and the effects of catchment-scale disturbance on these metabolism rates. At Fort Benning, and presumably at other military installations, they are useful tools for evaluating trends in impacts from military training or rates of recovery following restoration activities. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2005.03.004 fatcat:yqq6hnf5g5fzflzo3q2blgvw6e