Percentage land use in the watershed determines the water- and sediment-quality of 21 wetlands in the Great Lakes basin

Crosbie, B. and Chow-Fraser, P.
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
(1999) 56: 1781-1791


Data from 22 Ontario marshes were used to test the hypothesis that distribution of forested, agricultural, and urban land in the watershed determines the water and sediment quality of Great Lakes wetlands. The first three components of the principal components analysis explained 82% of the overall variation. PC1 ordinated wetlands along a trophic gradient; species richness of submergent vegetation decreased with PC1 scores. PC2 reflected the content of inorganic solids and phosphorus in sediment and the ionic strength of the water. Both PC1 and PC2 scores were positively correlated with percent agricultural land, whereas PC1 scores were negatively correlated with forested land. Correlation between PC1 and agricultural land improved when best-management practices were considered. Accounting for common carp (Cyprinus carpio) disturbance did not confound the relationship between land use and water quality. PC3, driven by soluble reactive phosphorus and nitrate nitrogen concentration in the water, was not correlated with land use. Concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and Metolachlor were correlated with urban and agricultural land, respectively, and may be useful as land use surrogates. Watershed management favouring the retention of forested land, or creation of buffer strips to trap agricultural runoff in the drainage basin, should help maintain aquatic plant diversity in coastal wetlands.

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