Assessing Best Management Practices for Reducing Impacts of Natural Gas Development Using Stream Algal Biomass and Metabolism

Tuesday, September 10, 2013: 10:20 AM
Hoffman (The Marriott Little Rock)
Bradley Austin , Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
Cymber Browder , Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas
Sally Entrekin , Biology, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR
Michelle Evans-White , University of Arkansas
Development of natural gas (NG) infrastructure is occurring throughout most of north-central Arkansas and may have detrimental impacts on the surrounding landscape and streams.  Best management practices (BMPs) are often implemented, but their effectiveness is unknown.  Algal biomass and gross primary production (GPP) have been found to increase across a gradient of well activity and could be good indicators of impacts due to NG development.  We are using a before-after control-impact (BACI) study design to assess the effectiveness of the BMPs used within Scott Henderson Gulf Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) that is being developed for natural gas production.  Six stream reaches within the WMA were sampled for algal biomass and GPP from 2010-2012 prior to NG infrastructure development.  Springtime mean (±1SE) chlorophyll a and GPP were 1.00 ± 0.20 µg/cm2 and 1.20 ± 0.43 gC/m2/d, respectively.  We hypothesize that NG infrastructure development in stream catchments in the WMA will increase algal biomass and GPP due to elevated nutrient inputs associated with sediments if BMPs were not effective.