Land-Use Change and Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Community Structure in the McIntosh Run, Nova Scotia Canada
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Land-cover refers to the physical and biological cover of a land’s surface; including water, vegetation, soil, and/or artificial structures (Ellis 2011). This differs from land-use, which is a more complicated term that natural scientists refer to as syndromes of human activities. Such activities include agriculture, forestry, and urbanization that ultimately alter an area’s biogeochemistry, hydrology, and biodiversity (Ellis 2011). With these in mind, land-use or land-cover change can then be defined as a human modification of the Earth’s surface. Humans have been modifying the Earth’s surface for thousands of years for food and other essentials; however, the current rate, intensity and extent of these changes are impacting ecosystems and environmental processes at local, regional and global scales. Many of today’s greatest environmental concerns, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and water, soil, and air pollution, are rooted in these land-use changes. In particular, past research has shown that land-use changes can have significant effects on habitat quality in streams (Graynoth 1979, Lemly 1982, Riley et al. 2003). These changes are mainly a result of vegetation removal that leaves soils vulnerable to mass erosion by wind and water that can lead to significant inputs of phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediments into aquatic ecosystems, causing a variety of negative impacts (increased sedimentation, turbidity, eutrophication and coastal hypoxia).