COMPARATIVE PROPERTIES IN RIPARIAN FOREST BUFFER ZONES AND ADJACENT AGRICULTURAL AREAS: INFILTRATION AND TOTAL CARBON
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Type of Work38 pages
DepartmentHood College Graduate School
ProgramM.S. Environmental Biology
Addressing nonpoint source nutrient pollution to improve the health of degrading aquatic ecosystems is becoming increasingly important with growing anthropogenic stresses. Soil water infiltration and total organic carbon help determine a soil’s ability to reduce runoff and improve water quality through denitrification. This study surveyed the infiltration rates and organic carbon content of soil samples from 30 different paired riparian and agricultural sites around three counties in western Maryland. Infiltration rates in riparian forest buffer zones were found to be significantly higher than those of their adjacent agricultural areas. Total organic carbon concentrations were not different between the two land uses, indicating that the buffers, having been established between five and fifteen years ago, are improving soil infiltration rates. More time may be needed to develop soil carbon that will, together, improve the functionality of these zones in addressing nonpoint source pollution from farmland.