Evaluating Stream Degradation in Villa De Allende, Mexico: The Effect of Rural Development on the Taxonomic Richness and Relative Abundance of Benthic Macro-Invertebrates in Mexican Headwater Streams

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Graduate student (Masters)
Date created: 
2017-05
Abstract: 

This research examines the anthropogenic effects on the water quality of headwater streams in the western mountains of the state of Mexico. Rural development has negative effects on the ecology of local streams by diverting and pumping surface and groundwater, removing riparian forests for the construction of buildings, roads, and agricultural fields, and dumping refuse in stream channels. Local development, construction, roads, and agriculture also are sources of pollution that enter the streams during rain events. These negative ecological effects are common to many streams in the watershed of the Chilesdo dam. The combined effects of human development negatively affect the quality of surface water and groundwater aquifers.

 

The issue of anthropogenic effects on the water quality of headwater streams is relevant ecologically because of likely effects on flora and fauna that depend on these streams and because of the role of headwater streams in the context of the larger watershed. Effects on upstream areas directly affect people, animals, and plants downstream. This issue is relevant economically because rural communities depend on the availability of water of suitable quality for agriculture and livestock. In addition, local water quality directly affects the cost of water purification downstream at dams that feed the Cutzamala system, a major source of Mexico City’s drinking water. This issue is relevant socially because the local community depends on this water for domestic consumption. Compromising water quality and abundance could destabilize the lives of local people because poor water quality and water contamination are a public health concern. Additionally, climate change is likely to make this resource scarcer. Projections for all major scenarios used by the International Panel on Climate Change indicate elevated year-round temperatures and decreased overall precipitation in the region (IPCC 2013).

 

The results revealed that taxonomic richness was lower in streams that had anthropogenic alterations. The results also revealed that the abundance of “sensitive” and “somewhat sensitive species” were lower and that the abundance of “pollution-tolerant species” was higher in streams with anthropogenic alterations. The stream with few anthropogenic alterations had the highest taxonomic richness and largest number of sensitive and somewhat sensitive species. These results indicate that human activities are having negative effects on water quality.

 

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
Rights: 
Rights remain with the author.
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Scott Harrison
Department: 
Environment: Ecological Restoration Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.
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