Title

Marcellus Shale Impact on Leaf Decomposition Via Sedimentation Across a Gradient of Land Use

Item Type

Poster

Location

Elaine Langone Center, Terrace Room

Start Date

13-11-2015 8:00 PM

End Date

13-11-2015 10:00 PM

Description

The rapid development of hydrofracking has greatly outpaced ecological research trying to assess potential impacts of natural gas drilling on the environment, specifically aquatic ecosystems. Increased sedimentation and contamination of streams from natural gas drilling could affect stream biota, resulting in altered rates of ecosystem processes, like leaf breakdown. Microbial and macroinvertebrate communities play the biggest roles in leaf decomposition, thus understanding how these communities respond to disturbance from natural gas drilling, such as sedimentation and contamination, should enable us to predict how leaf breakdown might be affected. To determine impact of Marcellus Shale activity on leaf decomposition and on biological components involved, we deployed leaf packs in seven sites representing a range of Marcellus Shale activity along a gradient of different land uses including forest, agriculture, and human development. Breakdown rates were determined for maple and oak leaves deployed in bags with coarse mesh and fine mesh to assess the relative influences of microbial decomposition and macroinvertebrate feeding. In addition, physical and chemical variables were measured. Overall, we found the breakdown rates for all sites, mesh sizes, and leaf species to be higher in the presence of natural gas drilling. As expected, maple leaves broke down faster than oak leaves, and leaves incubated in fine mesh bags decomposed more slowly than leaves in coarse mesh bags. Across the land use gradient without Marcellus Shale influence, agricultural sites had higher breakdown rates than forested and developed areas. Higher breakdown rates in Marcellus Shale sites suggest that more disturbed land modifies hydrology of the stream systems, promoting more runoff into the stream as well as more sediment release. This increased sediment in combination with higher runoff may not bury the leaves as predicted but may increase the mechanical breakdown of leaf material due to high water velocity.

Language

eng

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Nov 13th, 8:00 PM Nov 13th, 10:00 PM

Marcellus Shale Impact on Leaf Decomposition Via Sedimentation Across a Gradient of Land Use

Elaine Langone Center, Terrace Room

The rapid development of hydrofracking has greatly outpaced ecological research trying to assess potential impacts of natural gas drilling on the environment, specifically aquatic ecosystems. Increased sedimentation and contamination of streams from natural gas drilling could affect stream biota, resulting in altered rates of ecosystem processes, like leaf breakdown. Microbial and macroinvertebrate communities play the biggest roles in leaf decomposition, thus understanding how these communities respond to disturbance from natural gas drilling, such as sedimentation and contamination, should enable us to predict how leaf breakdown might be affected. To determine impact of Marcellus Shale activity on leaf decomposition and on biological components involved, we deployed leaf packs in seven sites representing a range of Marcellus Shale activity along a gradient of different land uses including forest, agriculture, and human development. Breakdown rates were determined for maple and oak leaves deployed in bags with coarse mesh and fine mesh to assess the relative influences of microbial decomposition and macroinvertebrate feeding. In addition, physical and chemical variables were measured. Overall, we found the breakdown rates for all sites, mesh sizes, and leaf species to be higher in the presence of natural gas drilling. As expected, maple leaves broke down faster than oak leaves, and leaves incubated in fine mesh bags decomposed more slowly than leaves in coarse mesh bags. Across the land use gradient without Marcellus Shale influence, agricultural sites had higher breakdown rates than forested and developed areas. Higher breakdown rates in Marcellus Shale sites suggest that more disturbed land modifies hydrology of the stream systems, promoting more runoff into the stream as well as more sediment release. This increased sediment in combination with higher runoff may not bury the leaves as predicted but may increase the mechanical breakdown of leaf material due to high water velocity.