Tuesday, June 19, 2007 - 2:10 PM
Ponderosa Pines (Boise Centre on the Grove)

Differentiating Impacted and Least Impacted Springbrooks in Southern Idaho

Johnna Sandow and Peter Koetsier. Boise State University, Boise, ID

Due to their small size and patchy distribution, structure and function of desert springbrooks are not well-understood. As a result, springbrook conservation usually is not a management priority. Although these systems provide important habitat for a variety of plants and animals in the arid environment, many are heavily affected by anthropogenic activity. In this study our objective was to determine if there are physical, chemical, and biological differences between impacted (i.e., grazed) and least impacted springbrooks. We collected samples from 5 "pristine" and 5 impaired springbrook habitats in the Great Basin of southwest Idaho. We gathered qualitative and quantitative habitat information and collected periphyton, benthic macroinvertebrate samples as well as water samples for assessing microbial community resources utilization patterns. We found some significant differences in the biological communities between springbrooks that had been utilized by cattle (impaired) and those that were enclosed ("pristine"). Results from a two sample t-test indicate no significant difference in periphyton biomass between impaired and pristine conditions. Significant differences were found for various measures of the macroinvertebrate community including taxa richness, Hilsenhoff biotic index, and percent Plecoptera. Once methodologies are established to characterize reference springbrooks and quantitatively distinguish impacted from least impacted springbrooks, then land management agencies can begin to take appropriate actions identifying, prioritizing, restoring, and conserving these vial habitats.