Pan, Y., A.T. Herlihy, P.R. Kaufmann, P.J. Wigington, Jr., J. Van Sickle, and T.J. Moser. 2004. Linkages between land-use, water quality, physical habitat conditions and lotic diatom assemblages: a multi-spatial scale assessment. Hydrobiologia 515:59-73. WED-02-168
We assessed the importance of spatial scales (catchment, stream network, and sample reach) on the effects of agricultural land-use on lotic diatom assemblages along a land-use gradient in the agricultural Willamette Valley Ecoregion of Oregon. Periphyton, water chemistry, and physical habitat conditions were characterized for 25 wade-able streams during a dry season (July to September, 1997). Additional water chemistry samples were collected in the following wet season (February 1998) to assess seasonal effects of land-use on stream water chemistry. Percent agricultural land-use in the study catchments ranged from 10% to 89% with an average of 52%. Partial canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) with the first axis constrained by % agricultural land-use showed that % agricultural land-use at 3 spatial scales explained between 3.7%-6.3% of variability in the diatom species dataset. Monte Carlo Permutation tests indicated that the variance explained by % agricultural land-use was only significant at the spatial scale of the stream network with 10- and 30-m band width (p < 0.05,999 permutations). In addition to the effects of % agricultural land-use, partial CCAs with a forward selection option showed that water chemistry (e.g., SiO2), reach-scale stream channel dimensions (e.g., width, depth, and slope), reach-scale in-stream habitats (substrates and filamentous algal cover in stream beds), and riparian vegetative buffer were all important with relation to diatom species assemblages. Percent of obligately nitrogen-heterotrophic taxa was the only diatom autecological metric that showed a significant but weak correlation with % agricultural land-use along the stream network (r = 0.50), but not at catchment or sample reach scale. Correlation between % agricultural land-use and water chemistry variables varied among the spatial scales and between seasons. Physical habitat variables (log10 erodible substrate diameters and stream reach slope) were significantly correlated with % agricultural land-use along the stream network but not at catchment or sample reach scale. Our data suggest that spatial scales are important in assessing effects of land-use on stream conditions but the spatial scale effects may vary between seasons. Direct linkages between agricultural land-use and lotic diatom assemblages were weak during summer base-flow time regardless of the spatial scales. Summer sampling may underestimate the effects of catchment land-use on stream conditions in areas where seasonal patterns are so distinctive as in the Willamette Valley.