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Relationships between diatom metrics based on species nutrient traits and agricultural land use
- Pillsbury, Robert, Stevenson, R. Jan, Munn, Mark D., Waite, Ian
- Environmental monitoring and assessment 2019 v.191 no.4 pp. 228
- Bacillariophyceae, agricultural land, evolution, flora, homogenization, humans, indicator species, land use, landscapes, models, nutrients, pH, rowcrops, species diversity, streams, watersheds, wetlands, United States
- We assessed how diatom metrics were related to different ranges of agricultural land use. Diatom assemblage composition, nutrients, and landscape characteristics were determined at 232 sites in eight agriculturally dominated study areas of the continental United States. Two regional groups based on differences in diatom relations to human disturbance were determined. Changes in diatom species composition were related to nutrients, pH, and conductivity in the eastern study areas (due to more wetlands) and more exclusively to nutrients in the west-central study areas. Homogenization of diatom flora among streams was related to high agricultural disturbance at this transcontinental scale. Species traits were developed separately for the east and west-central study groups and calculated two ways: indicator species analysis for taxa in low and high TN or TP conditions and weighted average partial least squares models of TN and TP concentration. These diatom metrics were significantly related to many indicators of agricultural land use in watersheds, especially percent row crops. Further analysis was conducted on only the west-central region due to its larger sample size. Overall, diatom metrics using species responses to N gradients were better related to agricultural land use than were species responses to P gradients. Most nutrient-based diatom metrics changed greatly in response to low ranges of percent row crops, but only a few high N diatom metrics responded to high row crop conditions. The greater response of diatoms to changes in low agriculture conditions may be due to past diatom evolution occurring when most waters had low nutrient conditions.