Understanding stream bank erosion and deposition in Iowa, USA: A seven year study along streams in different regions with different riparian land-uses
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KünyeZaimes, G. Ν., Tamparopoulos, A. E., Tufekcioglu, M., & Schultz, R. C. (2021). Understanding stream bank erosion and deposition in Iowa, USA: A seven year study along streams in different regions with different riparian land-uses. Journal of Environmental Management, 287, 112352.
Agricultural activities such as row-cropping and grazing, have accelerated stream bank erosion. Accelerated stream bank erosion increases nonpoint source pollutants in aquatic ecosystems, significantly degrading them. Mitigating stream bank erosion is a priority worldwide, especially in agricultural watersheds. The objective of this study was to analyze the impacts of riparian land-use management on stream bank erosion and deposition, along with analyzing its temporal and spatial patterns. The study was conducted in three regions of Iowa (central, northeast and southeast) along 30 stream reaches adjacent to seven different riparian land-uses. The riparian land-uses were riparian forest buffers, grass filters, pastures with the cattle excluded from the stream, intensive rotational grazing, rotational grazing, continuous grazing and row crop fields. Seasonal erosion and deposition data (Spring, Summer and Autumn) were collected along these reaches for 5 years and yearly for the following two years. To analyze the data, conventional statistical methods (ANOVA and Tukey's test) along with innovative techniques (percentile plots, cumulative erosion curves and bubble charts) were utilized. Based on the analysis, of this extensive in time (seven years) and large in size (1500 pins measured 17 times in three regions) field dataset, major results were obtained in regard to stream bank erosion in Iowa, USA. Stream banks exhibited high year-to-year variation in erosion and deposition showcasing the need for long-term datasets to better understand stream bank erosion and deposition. Seasonal erosion, also had high variability with Spring recording the most erosion followed by Summer and Autumn. Certain seasons exhibited high stream bank erosion indicating that managers need to focus on these seasons, to reduce erosion effectively. In addition, seasonal measurements can highlight depositional events that might be masked with annual measurements. Riparian land-uses significantly impacted stream bank erosion. Riparian forest buffers and grass filters significantly mitigated stream bank erosion while traditional agricultural practices like continuous grazing and row-crop agriculture had accelerated stream bank erosion. Finally, the percentile plots, cumulative erosion curves and bubble charts captured some stream bank responses that would have been unnoticed using conventional statistical methods, allowing decision makers, stakeholders and the general public, to support and approve measures to mitigate this environmental problem. Nature-based solutions utilizing riparian perennial vegetation can sustainably mitigate stream bank erosion.