On-site spatial analysis of anthropogenic litter abundance within the Mississippi River Credit Island, Iowa riparian zone

Authors: Jodie Kirschner*, Augustana College
Topics: Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: anthropogenic litter, riparian zone, spatial analysis, GIS-model
Session Type: Illustrated Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Canal St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Riparian zones represent major accumulation sites for anthropogenic litter (AL), especially plastic litter, making rivers a major source of AL input into oceans as they connect terrestrial environments to marine environments. Furthermore, riparian zones produce sites where intense weathering allows plastic litter to enter rivers in a more bioavailable dangerous state. Yet, very few temporal and spatial freshwater, riparian studies have been done on AL ecology. This research’s objectives are threefold: (1) to asses the spatial distribution of land based AL on Credit Island, Iowa, an Upper Mississippi River riparian zone, (2) to consider reach-scale metrics of human activity as explanatory variables for AL spatial distribution on the island (i.e. anthropogenic influences and e.g. accessibility), and (3) to create a GIS-based prediction model for AL along the shoreline. These objectives informed the following hypothesis: (1) AL will be most abundant at points with the most anthropogenic influences on site and (2) plastic litter will be the most abundant material type of AL across the island. These hypothesis were tested utilizing GPS data collection, adopted ecology methods (e.g. quadrat method and timed observation), GIS spatial analysis, and statistical analysis. These methods yielded results comparable to AL ecology literature, as river stages and runoff were the most explanatory variable for AL spatial distribution. More importantly, this research proves that GIS-based models are powerful tools for understanding AL ecology.

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