Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (1.18 MB bytes)

Title: Physical and biological responses of streams to suburbanization of historically agricultural watersheds

Author: Burcher, Chris L.; Benfield, E.F.;

Date: 2006

Source: J. N. Am. Benthol. Soc., Vol. 25(2): 356-363

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: We investigated whether suburbanization influenced the physical and biological characteristics of ten 3rd-0r 4th-order streams that drain historically agricultural watersheds in the southern Appalachians near Asheville, North Carolina. Five watersheds had areas of recent suburban development proximal to stream sites, and 5 watersheds were not currently undergoing suburban development. We estimated 5 hydrological, 10 geomorphological, 6 erosional, and 3 depositional (i.e., substrate) variables, and 13 fish and 8 macroinvertebrate metrics in the study sites. We used Student's t-tests and multivariate analysis of variance to compare the 45 variables between sites in agricultural and suburban watersheds. We used Detrended Correspondence Analysis (DCA) to detect subtle differences in taxonomic composition and abundance among watersheds. Stormflow total suspended solids were si@cantly lower and substrate inorganic matter content was significantly higher in streams influenced by suburban development. Fish taxa richness and the density of nonguarding fishes were significantly higher in sites in suburban watersheds than in sites in agricultural watersheds. No other fish or macroinvertebrate metric differed with respect to watershed land use, but ordination of sites by fish and macroinvertebrate species abundance suggested that biotic assemblages at sites in suburban watersheds were distinct from those at sites in agricultural watersheds. Therefore, some taxa may have been influenced by suburban development. Our results suggest that watershed hydrology, sediment delivery, and sediment composition might be important factors influencing biota in streams draining agricultural vs suburban watersheds. Biological assemblages in streams differed structurally with respect to watershed land use, but streams did not appear to be otherwise influenced by suburban development. We conclude that suburbanization near historically agricultural southern Appalachian streams induces subtle changes to inorganic sediment dynamics, substrate composition, and fish and macroinvertebrate assemblage structure.

Keywords: streams, suburbanization, agriculture, macroinvertebrates, fish, Appalachia, land use, total suspended solids, landscape

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)



Burcher, Chris L.; Benfield, E.F. 2006. Physical and biological responses of streams to suburbanization of historically agricultural watersheds. J. N. Am. Benthol. Soc., Vol. 25(2): 356-363


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.