Periphyton communities in streams of the Ozark Plateaus and their relations to selected environmental factors

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2002-4210
National Water-Quality Assessment Program
By:  and 



During August through September of 1993- 95, 83 periphyton samples were collected at 51 stream sites in the Ozark Plateaus. These sites were categorized into six land-use categories (20 forest, 18 agriculture, 10 mining, 1 urban, 1 urban/ mining, and 1 mix), based on land-use percentages in the basin upstream from the site.

Results indicate that periphyton communities of riffles of Ozark streams are affected by natural and land-use related factors. These factors include nutrients, dissolved organic carbon, alkalinity, canopy shading, suspended sediment, embeddedness, stream morphometry, and velocity. For several measures of periphyton communities, statistically significant (p<0.05) differences were found among sites assigned to agriculture, forest, and mining categories. Blue-green algae biovolume, relative abundance of blue-green algae, relative biovolume of diatoms, relative abundance of oligotrophic algae, relative abundance of tolerant taxa, and condition index values were among the measures that differed among land-use categories.

Although no environmental factors were significantly correlated with total biovolume, several factors were significantly correlated with biovolume of blue-green algae or biovolume of diatoms. Biovolume of blue-green algae was correlated with percent agriculture land use. Biovolume of diatoms was correlated with orthophosphate, total phosphorus, alkalinity, velocity, embeddedness, and dissolved organic carbon.

Diatoms often composed the largest percentage of the biovolume (relative biovolume). Diatom relative biovolume was much higher at mining sites (generally 75 to 90 percent of the total biovolume) than at forest or agriculture sites (generally 15 to 80 percent) and was correlated with several factors, including many land-use related factors. The diatoms Cymbella affinis and Cymbella delicatula and the blue-green algae Calothrix often were the most common (relative abundance and relative biovolume) algae in samples. 

Detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) and hierarchical cluster analyses results indicated differences among land-use category sites. The DCA results were correlated with a number of land-use related factors and channel morphometry.

Grazers (specifically, snails and stonerollers) are related to periphyton biovolume and community composition. Total periphyton and diatom biovolume typically were highest at sites where snail density was lowest. Lower relative abundances of diatoms usually occurred at sites with higher snail densities and stoneroller relative abundances.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Periphyton communities in streams of the Ozark Plateaus and their relations to selected environmental factors
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 2002-4210
DOI 10.3133/wri024210
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description vi, 77 p.
Country United States
State Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma
Other Geospatial Ozaek Plateaus
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