Suspended Solids in Streams as Influenced by Land Management on Tallgrass Prairie
Suspended solids in streams are important to monitor and manage because high levels of suspended solids have been shown to affect the primary and secondary production of a stream. The loading rate of total suspended solids (TSS) can greatly be influenced by the land management of a stream site’s catchment area. A computer-based geographic information system (GIS) was used to assess what land cover/land use variables were highly correlated to high levels of TSS in Kansas Flinthill streams on a long-term data set collected by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. A Mallow’s CP (AIC) best subset regression supported that the area of pasture and deciduous forest within a stream site’s catchment area were the leading land cover/ land use variables positively correlated with high TSS levels (R2=89.2, p=0.005). Konza Prairie Biological Station (KPBS) is located near the northern boundary of the Flinthills. KPBS has had increased rates of forest encroachment primarily along the riparian edges. Additionally, cattle are planned to be grazed on the Shane Creek watershed of KPBS as part of a patch-burn graze study. Given the results from the larger-scale analyses, the increase in deciduous forest and pasture/ grazing acres on KPBS within the Shane Creek watershed could be expected to potentially increase TSS levels in Shane Creek from 113 mg/L to 390 mg/L (344%). This increase in TSS could potentially alter ecosystem structure and function of Shane Creek.