Roads, Water, and Wetlands: Effects of Highway Construction on Wetland Viability

Authors: Natasha Chenot*, University of Kansas
Topics: Environmental Science, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Wetlands, urban development, water quality, land-use change
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Worldwide, floodplain wetlands are rapidly urbanizing, making them highly vulnerable to biodiversity loss, biological invasion, and climate change. Wetlands provide cities with essential and irreplaceable services such as flood control, water filtration, and carbon sequestration. Wetland degradation results in the loss of these ecosystem services, which affects the quality of life in urban areas. The drivers for wetland clearing are most frequently transportation development. However, at present, very few studies have examined the during-and-after effects of transportation development on wetland functionality. Consequently, there is little understanding of the long-term, cumulative impacts of such a disturbance. At the Wakarusa Wetlands, in northeast Kansas, a four-lane highway was built from May 2014 to June 2016 across the northern expanse of the wetlands. For this study, data was collected, during two time periods at four sites, to assess the during-and-after effects of highway construction on the water chemistry of the Wakarusa Wetlands. Five chemical and physical water quality parameters were measured to assess the health of the wetlands. Sampling protocols established from similar regions (Missouri, Nebraska) were adjusted to accommodate the Wakarusa Wetlands study area. Results from water quality tests suggest that disturbance from highway construction to date has increased turbidity and reduced dissolved oxygen content. Continued monitoring at the sample sites will allow a longer-term view of the effects of highway construction on wetland functionality.

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