Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 1781–1793 | Cite as

Effects of hydromorphology and riparian vegetation on the sediment quality of agricultural low-order streams: consequences for stream restoration

  • Bernadette Teufl
  • Gabriele Weigelhofer
  • Jennifer Fuchsberger
  • Thomas Hein
Research Article

Abstract

Intensive agricultural land use imposes multiple pressures on streams. More specifically, the loading of streams with nutrient-enriched soil from surrounding crop fields may deteriorate the sediment quality. The current study aimed to find out whether stream restoration may be an effective tool to improve the sediment quality of agricultural headwater streams. We compared nine stream reaches representing different morphological types (forested meandering reaches vs. deforested channelized reaches) regarding sediment structure, sedimentary nutrient and organic matter concentrations, and benthic microbial respiration. Main differences among reach types were found in grain sizes. Meandering reaches featured larger mean grain sizes (50–70 μm) and a thicker oxygenated surface layer (8 cm) than channelized reaches (40 μm, 5 cm). Total phosphorous amounted for up to 1,500 μg g−1 DW at retentive channelized reaches and 850–1,050 μg g−1 DW at the others. While N-NH4 accumulated in the sediments (60–180 μg g−1 DW), N-NO3 concentrations were generally low (2–5 μg g−1 DW). Benthic respiration was high at all sites (10–20 g O2 m−2 day−1). Our study shows that both hydromorphology and bank vegetation may influence the sediment quality of agricultural streams, though effects are often small and spatially restricted. To increase the efficiency of stream restoration in agricultural landscapes, nutrient and sediment delivery to stream channels need to be minimized by mitigating soil erosion in the catchment.

Keywords

Agricultural streams Sediment structure Sedimentary nutrients Benthic microbial respiration Hydromorphology Stream restoration 

Abbreviations

CV

Coefficient of variation

CB

Channelized broadened reaches without riparian forests

CI

Channelized incised reaches without riparian forests

DOC

Dissolved organic carbon

Hbb

Herbertsbrunn stream

Hbg

Herrnbaumgarten stream

Hip

Hipples stream

MN

Meandering natural reaches with riparian forests

MR

Meandering restored reaches with riparian forests

Ntot

Total nitrogen

Pinorg/org

Inorganic/organic phosphorous

Ptot

Total phosphorous

Str

Stronsdorf stream

Stu

Stuetzenhofen stream

TOC

Total organic carbon

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (European Territorial Cooperation Austria–Czech Republic 2007–2013), the Government of Lower Austria, and the Austrian Ministry of Environment.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernadette Teufl
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gabriele Weigelhofer
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jennifer Fuchsberger
    • 1
  • Thomas Hein
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.WasserCluster Lunz GmbHLunz am SeeAustria
  2. 2.Department of LimnologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  3. 3.Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem ManagementUniversity of Natural Resources and Life SciencesViennaAustria

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