Effects of bioengineered bank stabilization on urban streams
Sudduth, Elizabeth Ballard
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Bioengineered streambank stabilization is among the most commonly performed of stream restoration practices. The goal of this study was to assess the effects of bioengineering on bank and benthic macroinvertebrate communities and their habitat. I studied four bioengineering sites on Peachtree and Nancy Creeks in Atlanta, GA, and compared them to an unrestored site and an urban reference site in the same watershed. The bank macroinvertebrate community was found to have higher abundance, biomass, and richness at the reference site and several of the bioengineering sites; in addition, these values were higher on organic habitats than inorganic habitats. The benthic macroinvertebrate community was more dense, but less diverse than the bank community. At the reach scale, percent organic bank habitat proved to be a strong predictor for many aspects of the bank and benthic macroinvertebrate communities. These results suggest that joint planting is not an ecologically beneficial form of bioengineering. Overally, this study shows that bioengineering can have positive effects on urban streams; however, bioengineering alone cannot mitigate the effects of urbanization.