Date of this Version
Published in Wetlands (2013) DOI: 10.1007/s13157-013-0460-7
Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin has an abundance of natural wetlands and is a focal point in the annual migration corridor used by millions of waterfowl and shorebirds. However, these wetlands are in a landscape dominated by agriculture and as a result, siltation and poor water quality are continual problems. We evaluated twelve wetland sites on federally managed Waterfowl Protection Areas from 2007 – 2009 for water quality, sediment quality, andmacroinvertebrate diversity. Six of the sites received agricultural runoff directly via culverts and drainage ditches (non-buffered sites) and six siteswere protected from agricultural runoff by a vegetated buffer (buffered sites). Mean total number of aquatic macroinvertebrates were significantly greater (p <0.001) for buffered sites (230±44 standard error) than non-buffered sites (97±24).Water from non-buffered sites had significantly greater turbidity, conductivity, and concentrations of chlorophyll α and atrazine than buffered sites in addition to consistently greater annual averages of total nitrogen and total phosphorus. Furthermore, sediments from nonbuffered sites had significantly greater cadmium, potassium, sodium and zinc than buffered sites. Use of vegetative buffers to intercept direct row-crop runoff can improve water quality and aquatic macroinvertebrate diversity and abundance in Rainwater Basin wetlands.