Effect of Forested Buffers on Biotic Indicators of Water Quality in the Western Finger Lakes

Authors: Mitchell Owens*, Indiana University
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Land Use and Land Cover Change, Environmental Science
Keywords: Riparian buffers, lakes, biotic water quality, benthic macroinvertebrates, Finger Lakes,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Estherwood, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Forested riparian buffers have become a management solution to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff into various bodies of water, and have been shown to be effective in streams and rivers. However, very little has been done to show the efficacy of these buffers when implemented on the shorelines of lakes. My research explored whether relationships exist between individual watershed land use and water quality and whether having a near-shore forest buffer improves water quality, as determined by biotic indices using benthic macroinvertebrates in the western Finger Lakes. Conesus, Hemlock, Canadice and Honeoye lakes are among the smallest Finger Lakes, but they are important for drinking water, recreation and homes along their shorelines. Farms and forests are the major land uses in their watersheds. Hemlock and Canadice lakes are both within a state forest, which provides a buffer along the shoreline, and are considered to be pristine, while Conesus and Honeoye lakes are unregulated and are considered to be degraded. While significant differences were found in the overall benthic community compositions between the lakes, biotic indices indicated no significant differences in water quality between the lakes and no correlation between land use in watersheds and water quality. This suggests that partial-watershed management in Hemlock and Canadice Lakes has no effect on water quality and only whole watershed management might positively influence water quality.

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