Periphyton biomass and ecological stoichiometry in streams within an urban to rural land-use gradient
This study examined the effects land use on biomass and ecological stoichiometry of periphyton in 36 streams in southeastern New York State (USA). We quantified in-stream and land-use variables along a N-S land-use gradient at varying distances from New York City (NYC). Streams draining different landscapes had fundamentally different physical, chemical, and biological properties. Human population density significantly decreased (r = −0.739; P < 0.00001), while % agricultural land significantly increased (r = 0.347; P = 0.0379) with northing. Turbidity, temperature, conductivity, and dissolved Mg, Ca, SRP, pH, DOC, and Si significantly increased in more urban locations, but NO₃ ⁻ and NH₄ ⁺ did vary not significantly along the gradient. Periphyton biomass (as AFDM and Chl-a) in rural streams averaged one-third to one-fifth that measured in urban locations. Periphyton biomass in urban streams averaged 18.8 ± 6.0 g/m² AFDM and 75.6 ± 28.5 mg/m² Chl-a. Urban Chl-a levels ranging between 100 and 200 mg/m², are comparable to quantities measured in polluted agricultural streams in other regions, but in our study area was not correlated with % agricultural land. Periphyton nutrient content also varied widely; algal C varied >20-fold (0.06-1.7 μmol/mm²) while N and P content varied >6-fold among sites. Algal C, N, and P correlated negatively with distance from NYC, suggesting that periphyton in urban streams may provide greater nutrition for benthic consumers. C:N ratios averaged 7.6 among streams, with 91% very close to 7.5, a value suggested as the optimum for algal growth. In contrast, periphyton C:P ratios ranged from 122 to >700 (mean = 248, twice Redfield). Algal-P concentrations were significantly greater in urban streams, but data suggest algal growth was P-limited in most streams regardless of degree of urbanization. GIS models indicate that land-use effects did not easily fit into strict categories, but varied continuously from rural to urban...
2010 Dec., v. 657, no. 1
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