Do Riparian Buffers Improve Stream Temperatures?

Jeffrey Simmonssimmons@msmary.eduMount St. Mary's University
Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN)

Project Location

MD
US
A laboratory exercise for undergraduate ecology courses

Student Audience

Introductory, Major

Scientific Domain

  • Ecology
  • Environmental science

Nature of the Research

  • Field research
  • Basic research

Core Concepts

  • Pathways and Transformation of Energy: Biological systems grow and change by processes based on chemical transformation pathways and are governed by the laws of thermodynamics.
  • Systems: Living systems are interconnected and interacting.

Core Competencies

  • Applying the process of science
  • Using modeling and simulation
  • Communicating and collaborating
  • Understanding the relationship between science and society

Guiding Questions

  • How effective are riparian buffer zones at improving stream temperature?

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to describe daily and seasonal temperature cycles in streams.
  • Students will be able to explain how and why stream temperature regimes vary among locations at different latitudes.
  • Students will be able to explain how and why stream temperature is affected by solar radiation.
  • Students will be able to explain how changes in the stream temperature regime can potentially affect the stream’s biota and ecosystem functions.

Overview

Through manipulation and analysis of large datasets students will learn about the temperature regime of streams and rivers and will focus on two of the factors that affect stream temperatures, latitude and solar radiation. Students will be exposed to the concept of scale by examining data collected at two distinct spatial and temporal scales. Finally, students will use data they have analyzed to answer a significant question in watershed management: How effective are riparian buffer zones at improving stream temperature?

References

Simmons, J.A. 2012. Investigating factors that affect stream temperature: A laboratory exercise for undergraduate ecology courses. http://eremweb.org/project/stream-temperature-project/. Accessed xx/xx/20xx.

Simmons, Jeffrey simmons@msmary.edu Mount St. Mary's University
, Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN)