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Environmental Studies Department
Olin Rice 249
1600 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105
651-696-6274
Comments & questions to:
esson@macalester.edu



Student Research Projects - Summer 2009

 

Changing Perceptions of Nature – The Dam at St. Croix Falls by Jemma Brown. [WEB SITE]

Analysis of Streamflow Change in the St. Croix River Through Hydrological Modeling by Stephanie Kleinschmidt, Holly Barcus and Dan Hornbach

In 2004, the USGS published findings about the St. Croix River water flow based on two different measuring stations: Danbury and St. Croix Falls. The data, available until 2001, from these stations revealed that the stream flow at St. Croix Falls, the downstream station, was significantly higher than that at Danbury. The USGS ruled out differences in climate between the stations as a cause of this disparity because the sites are in close proximity to each other, but said that “the trends of increased flow between Danbury and St. Croix Falls may be related to factors other than climate, such as hydropower operation, population growth, changes in agricultural practices, or changes in land use.

This project uses hydrological modeling in a GIS to analyze the relationship of factors expected to be influencing the flow rate of the St. Croix River. Of primary focus are the effects of land use changes, urbanization (an increase in impervious surfaces), land cover and agricultural practices, as well as other sources of increased runoff. Data used originate primarily from state and federal agencies, and several models were evaluated for their appropriateness. This project seeks to explain how stream flow is affected by anthropogenic changes to the environment, looking specifically at the St. Croix River.

Minnesota Watershed Management Minnesota Watershed Management by Eion Dando and Prof. David Lanegran [POSTER]

Minnesota water management is administered according to both political and geographic boundaries.   Three primary government structures exist in Minnesota to develop and carry out watershed management plans and projects; watershed districts, local water management and watershed management organizations.   Concerns vary among regions and organizations, including flood control, drainage, water quality, storm and sewer run off, conservation, and restoration among others.

There are 46 watershed districts in Minnesota, varying in size from roughly 40 square miles to nearly 6,000 square miles, but covering less than one third of the entire state.  Watersheds are created by local petition and jurisdiction follows the geographic boundaries of the watershed.  Local water management is the local prevention and solving of water issues that follows political boundaries based on county divisions.  Many counties in Minnesota have delegated water management to Soil and Water Management Districts (SWMDs), which similar to local water management, are political subdivisions of the state.  SWMDs cover the entire state and are primarily focused on providing resources and services to private landowners for soil and water conservation.  The last structure is a Watershed Management Organization (WMO), which is an organization in the seven-county metropolitan area of the twin cities designed so that cities become more involved in water management plans.  The borders of WMOs follow geographic boundaries based on watersheds, and are primarily focused on surface water management.

Although methods of water management and allocation of responsibility are diverse within Minnesota, each unit fills a crucial and specific niche.  While political subdivisions allow for funding and focus on a local level, geographical subdivisions based on watershed are equally important and necessary, allowing collaboration between all parties affected by a single watershed.

Suspended Solids and Organic Matter on the St. Croix River and Implications for Freshwater Mussels Suspended Solids and Organic Matter on the St. Croix River and Implications for Freshwater Mussels by Carl Skarbek '11, Prof. Dan Hornbach, Prof. Kelly MacGregor and Mark Hove [POSTER]

The St. Croix River, located along the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin, is home to over 40 mussel species – nearly half of which are threatened or endangered.  These mussel populations have been the object of study for Dan Hornbach and Mark Hove since 1990. Their work reveals a 90% decline in juvenile mussels populations at Interstate Park below the St. Croix Falls Dam. A t this location there as been a decrease in sediment size within the same area – an unusual occurrence below a dam.  Measurements of suspended and bedload sediment have recently been gathered by Kelly MacGregor to better understand the effect of the dam on sediment transport in the St. Croix. Sediment transport affects distribution of sediment size at the bed, consequently changing the substrate mussels live in.  This change makes sediment distribution a key focal point for future study.

My objective in this study is to characterize the surface sediment and grain morphology in the Indianhead Reservoir above the St. Croix Falls Dam.  A better understanding of this sediment may be beneficial, as the reservoir is thought to be rapidly filling with sediment behind the dam, and it is this sediment that may serve as a significant substrate source for mussel beds below the dam.

Bed Sediment Size Distribution and Mineralogy of Indianhead Reservoir 2009 Bed Sediment Size Distribution and Mineralogy of Indianhead Reservoir 2009 by Karen Jackson, Kelly MacGregor, Dan Hornbach, Mark Hove [POSTER]

The St. Croix River, located along the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin, is home to over 40 mussel species – nearly half of which are threatened or endangered.  These mussel populations have been the object of study for Dan Hornbach and Mark Hove since 1990.  Their work reveals a 90% decline in juvenile mussels populations at Interstate Park below the St. Croix Falls Dam.  At this location there as been a decrease in sediment size within the same area – an unusual occurrence below a dam. Measurements of suspended and bedload sediment have recently been gathered by Kelly MacGregor to better understand the effect of the dam on sediment transport in the St. Croix. Sediment transport affects distribution of sediment size at the bed, consequently changing the substrate mussels live in.  This change makes sediment distribution a key focal point for future study.

My objective in this study is to characterize the surface sediment and grain morphology in the Indianhead Reservoir above the St. Croix Falls Dam.  A better understanding of this sediment may be beneficial, as the reservoir is thought to be rapidly filling with sediment behind the dam, and it is this sediment that may serve as a significant substrate source for mussel beds below the dam.

DNA Barcoding of Freshwater Mussells DNA Barcoding of Freshwater Mussells DNA Barcoding of Freshwater Mussells by Nathan W. Juergens, Prof. Sarah L. Boyer and Mark C. Hove [POSTER]

My work this summer revolved around bivalves of the family Unionidae, or freshwater mussels. These animals have an intricate life cycle where their larvae, which are called glochidia, parasitize the gills of certain fish. While encysted in the fish gills, the glochidia metamorphose into their juvenile stage of life. Attaching to mobile fish also allows generally stationary mussel species to be distributed to new habitats.

The populations of many species of Unionidae are in decline, with about 70% of the 674 known species listed as endangered, threatened or of special concern (Howe 2008), so conservation efforts are obviously needed soon. Any effort would need to identify and incorporate the fish hosts of the mussels, because of their intertwined life histories. But in the glochidial stage mussel species are very difficult to tell apart based solely on morphology. Therefore “DNA Barcoding” was used for identification of the glochidia. This project was started last summer by Alex Howe, who compiled a database of the ND1 and CO1 mitochondrial gene sequences of many adult mussel species. Using this tool I was able to compare new glochidial sequences of those two genes to the database, and in that way identify the larval species.

"It Couldn't Happen Here":  Perceptions of Flood Hazards and how they Effect Urban Policy by Laura Chamberlain

Flooding is a natural disaster that is recognized all over the world. Throughout history people have used new technologies and plans to alleviate the damages of inundated flooding. For my research I profiled five river towns in Minnesota: Red Wing, Hastings, Lake City, Rochester, Austin, as well as Cedar Rapids Iowa. Through a series of interviews of city planners as well as back ground research through the Minnesota Historical Society I looked at how these cities dealt with flooding in the past and how floods changed these cities throughout history. I used Burton and Kates' ideas of human perception of natural hazards (1960s) to show how each of these cities' cite and situation on rivers and their history of flooding have lead to different levels of flood awareness and preparedness.

 

 



Macalester College · 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105  USA · 651-696-6000
Comments and questions to esson@macalester.edu