Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp 1743–1755 | Cite as

Landscape and local factors influence water purification in the Monteregian agroecosystem in Québec, Canada

  • Marta TerradoEmail author
  • Romà Tauler
  • Elena M. Bennett
Original Article


The management of riparian areas in agricultural regions is important for the protection of water quality. In Québec, a buffer strip of at least three meters width is required for riparian buffers adjacent to agricultural areas. However, other qualities of the riparian area and the surrounding landscape may affect the ability of a system to deliver a water purification ecosystem service. This study, located in a tile-drained agroecosystem in the Montérégie (Québec, Canada), aims to unravel the importance of local factors (the environment adjacent to the stream) and landscape factors (the environment in the whole drainage basin) in water purification through sediment and nutrient retention. We assessed riparian and water quality in twenty-one sites distributed among four headwater streams. A regression analysis indicates that both landscape and local variables influence the provision of water purification. We therefore suggest that the effect of riparian buffers might be mediated by other factors such as subsurface drainage or local land management. Landscape configuration (the geometry and location of various land uses) was identified as playing a key role in the level of ecosystem services provided. We suggest that management of water quality in agroecosystems should focus both on buffer strips and on management of larger source areas in the basin. Interventions should not be only limited to recommendations for buffer width, but should also consider interactions between other local and landscape factors.


Riparian quality Ecosystem services Water purification Agriculture Water quality Landscape configuration 



This work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education through the National Program for the Mobility of Human Resources from the National Plan I-D + I 2008–2011 and by an NSERC Strategic Projects grant. The authors would like to thank people in E. Bennett’s laboratory for their assistance in sampling, and A. Gonzalez for help with study design. We thank H. Lalande for allowing us to use the laboratory facilities and the people from the Gault Nature Reserve for caring so much about our work.

Supplementary material

10113_2014_733_MOESM1_ESM.tif (13.2 mb)
Composition (loading plots) and spatial distribution (score plots) of the four principal components identified in the PCA of physicochemical data in the studied streams (see Table 2 for variable identification) (TIFF 13,466 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Terrado
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Romà Tauler
    • 3
  • Elena M. Bennett
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Natural Resource SciencesMcGill UniversitySainte-Anne-de-BellevueCanada
  2. 2.Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA), Scientific and Technological ParkUniversity of GironaGironaSpain
  3. 3.Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA)Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)BarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.McGill School of EnvironmentMcGill UniversitySainte-Anne-de-BellevueCanada

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