Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 168, Issue 1, pp 461-479

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The relative influence of nutrients and habitat on stream metabolism in agricultural streams

  • Jill D. FrankforterAffiliated withUS Geological Survey Email author 
  • , Holly S. WeyersAffiliated withUS Geological Survey
  • , Jerad D. BalesAffiliated withUS Geological Survey
  • , Patrick W. MoranAffiliated withUS Geological Survey
  • , Daniel L. CalhounAffiliated withUS Geological Survey


Stream metabolism was measured in 33 streams across a gradient of nutrient concentrations in four agricultural areas of the USA to determine the relative influence of nutrient concentrations and habitat on primary production (GPP) and respiration (CR-24). In conjunction with the stream metabolism estimates, water quality and algal biomass samples were collected, as was an assessment of habitat in the sampling reach. When data for all study areas were combined, there were no statistically significant relations between gross primary production or community respiration and any of the independent variables. However, significant regression models were developed for three study areas for GPP (r 2 = 0.79–0.91) and CR-24 (r 2 = 0.76–0.77). Various forms of nutrients (total phosphorus and area-weighted total nitrogen loading) were significant for predicting GPP in two study areas, with habitat variables important in seven significant models. Important physical variables included light availability, precipitation, basin area, and in-stream habitat cover. Both benthic and seston chlorophyll were not found to be important explanatory variables in any of the models; however, benthic ash-free dry weight was important in two models for GPP.


Primary production Respiration Nutrient enrichment United States Streams Agricultural