Riparian land-use, stream morphology and streambank erosion within grazed pastures in southern lowa, USA: A catchment-wide perspective
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CitationTüfekçioğlu, M., Schultz, R. C., Isenhart, T. M., Kovar, J. L., & Russell, J. R. (2020). Riparian Land-Use, Stream Morphology and Streambank Erosion within Grazed Pastures in Southern Iowa, USA: A Catchment-Wide Perspective. Sustainability, 12(16), 6461.
Factors influencing streambank erosion at the field/reach scale include both watershed andriparian land-uses, stream hydrology and channel morphology at the catchment scale. This studyassesses the relationship of riparian land-uses, stream morphologic characteristics and catchmentscale variables to streambank erosion within grazed riparian pastures in the Southern Iowa DriftPlain. Thirteen cooperating beef cow–calf farms and their catchments ranging from 2.5 to 12.9 km2in the Rathbun Lake watershed in South Central Iowa (USA) were chosen to conduct this study.Results suggest that the integration of stream morphologic characteristics and riparian land-uses atboth the reach and catchment scale are necessary to explain the current level of streambank erosionmeasured at the reach scale. Larger catchment size or catchments with more total channel lengthwere found to experience more bank erosion at the reach scale. A significant positive relationshipbetween percent sand-and-silt in the bank soil and bank erosion rates implies that bank soils with lesscohesiveness are more erodible. Catchment-scale assessments of the thirteen watersheds showedthat within the 50 m corridor on both sides of the stream, 46 to 61% of riparian area was devoted toagricultural use and only 6 to 11% was in ungrazed perennial vegetation, much of it enrolled in theUSDA Conservation Reserve Program. Overall, this and previous Rathbun watershed studies haveshown that intensive agricultural use of riparian areas over such extents of time and scale could bedirectly (in field scale) and/or indirectly (watershed scale) related to excessive amounts of streambankerosion (ranging from 8.6 to 38.3 cm/yr) to receiving streams and lakes leading to their impairmentand reduction in ecological services. Exclusion of cattle grazing in the riparian areas along bufferedstream lengths (2.1% of the total watershed area) of the Rathbun watershed would reduce this impact.This approach could also be applicable to other similar watersheds with extensive land-use undergrazed management.