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Effects of outdoor education stream classes on substrate movement and macroinvertebrate colonization
- Jon P. BOSSLEY, Peter C. JR. SMILEY
- Journal of Freshwater Ecology 2017 v.32 no.1 pp. 727-740
- Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera, aquatic invertebrates, base flow, environmental education, freshwater ecosystems, macroinvertebrates, parks, rocks, streams, students, Ohio
- Many outdoor education centers, camps, nature centers, and parks nationwide bring thousands of students to designated stream sites each year. Organizations that repeatedly use the same site for stream ecology classes have the potential to negatively impact the aquatic macroinvertebrate community via frequent rearrangement of stream substrate by students. We placed 15 rocks of three size classes within a riffle subjected to outdoor education stream classes and another set of 15 rocks within an unused riffle and measured rock movement weekly from April 2014 to May 2014 within an agricultural stream in central Ohio. We also documented the number and type of aquatic macroinvertebrates colonizing each rock at the end of the six week study. Upstream rock movement was greater in the class site than the unused site. Total rock movement, vertical movement, and lateral movement were greater in the class site than the unused site only during baseflow conditions. Macroinvertebrate abundance, taxa richness, EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera) abundance, and clinger abundance were greater in the unused site than the class site. Our results indicate that outdoor education centers can avoid negatively impacting the aquatic macroinvertebrate community and improve student educational experiences by alternating the stream sites at which stream classes are conducted.