, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 1025–1036 | Cite as

Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Communities and Water Quality at Buffered and Non-Buffered Wetland Sites on Federal Waterfowl Production Areas in the Rainwater Basin, Nebraska

  • John R. RiensEmail author
  • Matt S. Schwarz
  • Fatima Mustafa
  • W. Wyatt Hoback


Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin has an abundance of natural wetlands and is a focal point in the annual migration corridor used by millions of waterfowl and shorebirds. However, these wetlands are in a landscape dominated by agriculture and as a result, siltation and poor water quality are continual problems. We evaluated twelve wetland sites on federally managed Waterfowl Protection Areas from 2007 – 2009 for water quality, sediment quality, and macroinvertebrate diversity. Six of the sites received agricultural runoff directly via culverts and drainage ditches (non-buffered sites) and six sites were protected from agricultural runoff by a vegetated buffer (buffered sites). Mean total number of aquatic macroinvertebrates were significantly greater (p <0.001) for buffered sites (230 ± 44 standard error) than non-buffered sites (97 ± 24). Water from non-buffered sites had significantly greater turbidity, conductivity, and concentrations of chlorophyll α and atrazine than buffered sites in addition to consistently greater annual averages of total nitrogen and total phosphorus. Furthermore, sediments from non-buffered sites had significantly greater cadmium, potassium, sodium and zinc than buffered sites. Use of vegetative buffers to intercept direct row-crop runoff can improve water quality and aquatic macroinvertebrate diversity and abundance in Rainwater Basin wetlands.


Macroinvertebrate Rainwater basin Vegetative buffers Environmental contaminants Water quality 



Funding for this research was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, On-Refuge Environmental Contaminants fund and the University of Nebraska at Kearney Research Services Council. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The authors would like to thank the following for their assistance with this research: Joseph DeCant, Lourdes Mena, LaNae Hays, Jeff Drahota, Nadeeshani Jayasena, David Marx, Kerri Farnsworth-Hoback, Keith Koupal, Roger Grosse, Drew Prososki, Kathy Maline, Jason Gfeller, and Nancy Riens. Thanks to Ward Laboratories for discounted analytical services.


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Copyright information

© US Government 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • John R. Riens
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matt S. Schwarz
    • 2
  • Fatima Mustafa
    • 3
  • W. Wyatt Hoback
    • 4
  1. 1.United States Fish and Wildlife ServiceKlamath FallsUSA
  2. 2.United States Fish and Wildlife ServicePierreUSA
  3. 3.University of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA
  4. 4.University of Nebraska at KearneyKearneyUSA

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