Landscape Influences on Stream Habitats and Biological Assemblages

Influence of Landscape Features on Summer Water Temperatures in Lower Michigan Streams

Kevin E. Wehrly, Michael J. Wiley, and Paul W. Seelbach

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569766.ch6

Abstract.—Relatively little information is available regarding the environmental factors influencing water temperature in streams draining low-elevation, glaciated landscapes in the upper Midwest. We used multiple regression analysis and covariance structure analysis (CSA) to identify the landscape features that influence spatial variation in mean July water temperature in 282 lower Michigan stream sites and to determine the spatial scales over which these features operate. Both modeling approaches explained from 63% to 65% of the spatial variation in stream temperatures and suggested that thermal regimes in lower Michigan are influenced by a suite of landscape factors operating at catchment and local scales. However, CSA, because it incorporated both direct and indirect effects, provided a more robust approach for identifying the relative influence of landscape features on stream temperature. Our CSA model suggested that catchment area, latitude, local groundwater inputs, local forest cover, air temperature, percent catchment agriculture, percent catchment lakes and wetlands, and percent catchment coarse-textured geology were important factors structuring spatial variation in stream temperatures. Our analysis also suggested that impacts on stream temperature from land cover/ land use changes are of similar or greater magnitude as those resulting from increases in air temperature associated with global climate warming.