NU Water-Related Research in Dodge County

The list below shows water-related research being conducted within your district or that affects your district. They are sorted by water topic, then by primary contact's last name.

Displaying 20 records found for Dodge County


Topic Centers, Initiatives, and Units
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Kolok, Alan
Unit Biology, UNO
Email akolok@unomaha.edu
Phone 402-554-3545
Web Page http://www.unomaha.edu/envirotox/whoiam.php
Project Information
Title Nebraska Watershed Network
Description

The Nebraska Watershed Network is a student-driven organization that strives to promote water quality awareness through outreach, education and research.

The network works with local individuals, community organizations, schools, and government entities to design and implement projects in the Omaha area associated with water quality and preservation. We aim to engage people with very different abilities, knowledge, and interests to come together for a common goal: increasing the quality of water in Omaha.

Project Support
Project Website https://www.facebook.com/nebraskawatershednetwork/
Report
Current Status Ongoing
Pic 1 Project Image
Pic Caption 1 The Nebraska Watershed Network 
Topic Crop Nutrient Use
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Wortmann, Charles
Unit Agronomy and Horticulture
Email cwortmann2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-2909
Web Page http://agronomy.unl.edu/wortmann
Project Information
Title Nitrogen Use Efficiency of Irrigated Corn for Three Cropping Systems in Nebraska
Other(s) Charles Shapiro, Agronomy & Horticulture, cshapiro@unl.edu; Richard Ferguson, Agronomy & Horticulture, rferguson1@unl.edu; Gary Hergert, Panhandle Research & Extension Center, ghergert1@unl.edu 
Description

Overview Nitrogen fertilizer will continue to be indispensible for meeting global food, feed, and fiber needs. Voroneyand Derry (2008) estimated that 340 million Mg yr-1 N is fixed by natural means, including lightning and biological N fixation, and 105 million Mg yr-1 is fixed by human activities, including burning of fossil fuels and N fertilizer production, with N fixation by human activities expected to continue to increase. Townsend and Howarth (2010) estimated the amount of N fixed by human activities to be about 180 million Mg yr-1, with most used as mineral fertilizer. Fertilizer N production has important environmental implications with an average of ~2.55 kg CO2 emitted per kg fertilizer N fixed and transported (Liska et al., 2009). Th e amount of N applied is associated with emission of N2O (IPCC–OECD, 1997) and N accumulation in sensitive aquatic, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems (Groffman, 2008; Malakoff , 1998). Th e challenge is to produce more grain to meet growing global needs with high NUE.

Conclusions Across diverse production environments, high corn yields can be achieved with efficient use of soil and applied N and without high risk of NO3 -N leaching to groundwater. With excellent farm management, recovery of applied fertilizer-N in high-yielding corn fields of Nebraska was well above 60 to 70% at the economically optimal nitrogen rate (EONR), resulting in low residual soil nitrate nitrogen (RSN) levels. Agronomic efficiency and crop partial factor productivity (PFP), the Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) components most closely related to profitability of production, can also be high at EONR. Less preplant and more in-season N application may be especially important for drybean (CD) which had low recovery efficiency (RE) and much postharvest RSN compared with corn (CC) and soybean (CS). The levels of NUE achieved in our study for CC and CS far exceed current national or regional means, demonstrating the potential for high NUE with high yield corn production. Further NUE efficiency may be gained through more accurate in-season N application such as with use of the presidedress NO3 test (Andraski and Bundy, 2002) and spatial variation in N rate in response to variation in crop need, such as through use of reflectance sensors (Scharf and Lory, 2009; Barker and Sawyer, 2010; Roberts et al., 2010).

Project Support Nebraska State Legislature, Nebraska Agricultural Business Association
Project Website
Report Wortmann_NUE.pdf
Current Status Completed
Topic Crop Water Use
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Kranz, Bill
Unit Northeast Research and Extension Center
Email wkranz1@unl.edu
Phone 402-475-3857
Web Page http://bse.unl.edu/web/bse/wkranz1
Project Information
Title Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network - Northeast Activities
Other(s) Suat Irmak, Biological Systems Engineering, sirmak2@unl.edu; Ralph Kulm, rkulm1@unl.edu 
Description

This project is an extension of the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network and demonstrates the use of ETgages as a means of estimating potential crop water use in a local area. Because the closest weather station may be more than 20 miles away, weather data becomes less accurate; farmers within a 8-10 mile square area of a local ETgage could use the readings to get more accurate estimates of crop water use. Soil water sensors are used to ensure that irrigation amounts are appropriate for the field site. Crop water use estimates are supplied to local radio stations for broadcast on a daily basis.

Field sites near O'Neill, Pender, Schuyler and West Point include a demonstration and field testing of the ETgage and soil water sensors. Field data is being collected to determine how well a modified atmometer and watermark soil water sensors work in the sandy soils in this area. Some natural resources districts are providing cost share on this equipment. Eventually this network could be similar to the NeRAIN internet delivery program.

Project Support Nebraska Natural Resources Conservation Service
Project Website http://water.unl.edu/NAWMN
Report
Current Status Continuing
Topic Crop Water Use
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Wortmann, Charles
Unit Agronomy and Horticulture
Email cwortmann2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-2909
Web Page http://www.agronomy.unl.edu/newfacultystaff/directory/wortmann.html
Project Information
Title Improving Water Use Efficiency for Rainfed Production
Other(s) Steve Mason, Department of Agronomy & Horticulture, smason1@unl.edu, Richard Ferguson, Department of Agronomy & Horticulture, rferguson1@unl.edu 
Description

Research on skip-row planting of sorghum in western Nebraska and on improvement of no-till systems in eastern Nebraska is providing information on improving water use efficiency for rainfed production. A series of trials across southern Nebraska are underway to develop agronomic practices for sweet sorghum and to compare sweet sorghum to corn and grain sorghum as ethanol producing crops. Research on limited irrigation of corn, grain sorghum, and sweet sorghum in western Nebraska is being planned with field research in western Nebraska beginning in 2008. Research on improving the efficiency of nitrogen use for corn and grain sorghum has been completed. Other research focuses on the management of manure application including work on vegetative filter strips and non-application setbacks. A watershed level study is using a watershed model, SWAT, to improve criteria for targeting conservation practices in watersheds, to assess the impact of current practices, and to facilitate the adoption of additional conservation practices.

Research includes assessing the value of non-application setbacks for reducing nutrient loss in runoff, assessing the use of vegetated filter strips for reduced nutrient loading, and evaluating the rate of organic nitrogen mineralization for different manure types under different conditions in the field as a means to improve nitrogen management for reduced leaching of nitrate to groundwater.

Project Support n/a
Project Website
Report Wortmann_Sorghum.pdf
Current Status Completed
Topic Drought
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hanson, Paul
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email phanson2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-7762
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=758
Project Information
Title Pre-Historic Drought Records from the Eastern Platte River Valley
Other(s) R. Matt Joeckel, School of Natural Resources, rjoeckel3@unl.edu; Aaron Young, School of Natural Resources, ayoung3@unl.edu 
Description Recent studies have related large-scale dune activity in the Nebraska Sandhills and elsewhere on the western Great Plains to prehistoric megadroughts. At the eastern margin of the Great Plains, however, little or no effort has been expended toward identifying the impacts and severity of these climatic events. The eastern margin of the Great Plains should be of particular interest in paleclimate studies because it represents an important biogeographic boundary that may have shifted over time. In dunes around the present confluence of the Loup and Platte Rivers near Duncan, Nebraska, optical dating contrains, for the first time, the chronology of dune activity in the central-eastern margin of the Great Plains. A total of 17 optical age estimates taken from dune sediments clearly indicate two significant periods of dune activation at 5,100 to 3,500 years ago and 850-500 years ago. These reconstructed time intervals overlap both periods of large-scale dune activity in the Nebraska Sandhills and ancient droughts identified from other paleoclimate proxy records on the western Great Plains. The agreement between results from the eastern margin of the Great Plains and data from farther west indicate that megadroughts were truly regional in their effect. In order to further test a hypothesis of geographically-widespread megadrought effects, future work will date other dune deposits in eastern Nebraska from sites along the Loup and Elkhorn Rivers, as well as dunes in east-central Kansas and western Iowa.
Project Support United States Geological Survey Statemap Program
Project Website
Report Hanson Eastern Platte Valley.pdf
Current Status Published in Geomorphology 103 (2009) 555-561
Topic Extension
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Skipton, Sharon
Unit Southeast Research and Extension Center
Email sskipton1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-3662
Web Page http://www.southeast.unl.edu/staffdir/Skipton_Sharon
Project Information
Title Southeast Research and Extension Center
Other(s) Gary Zoubek, York County Extension, gzoubek@unl.edu 
Description Each day University of Nebraska Extension makes a difference in the lives of adults and youth. The faculty and staff in the Southeast Research and Extension Center and the 28 County Offices work to bring relevant researched based information to people in communities, towns and urban centers. Our efforts rely increasingly on partnerships with government agencies, business, industry, schools and community organizations. Working together with our partners Extension strives to strengthen the social, economic and environmental base of Nebraska's communities. Our programs must be ever-changing as Extension listens and responds to issues as they evolve. The Southeast Research and Extension District is unique because it serves both urban and rural communities Nebraska. The faculty and staff are committed to bringing the resources of the University and its research based information to the individuals and communities of Southeast Nebraska.
Project Support Varies according to program and project - for more information see http://www.southeast.unl.edu/
Project Website http://www.southeast.unl.edu/
Report
Current Status Continuous
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Chen, Xun-Hong
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email xchen2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-0772
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=19
Project Information
Title Groundwater Flow Model for the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District
Other(s) Cheng Cheng, School of Natural Resources 
Description Compared to other parts of Nebraska, the Platte River is wide and thus it is more challenging to characterize its hydrologic connections with the surrounding aquifers. The shallow aquifer consists of the alluvial and glacial deposits and displays strong heterogeneity. A three-dimensional groundwater flow model is developed using Visual MODFLOW to evaluate the impacts of groundwater withdrawals on the stream-aquifer system in the Lower Platte River Basin. The study area is about 65 miles by 50 miles and is located in eastern Nebraska. Two pumping tests were conducted to determine the hydraulic properties of the aquifers and aquitards, which are beneficial for model calibration. In-situ and laboratory permeameter tests of streambed sediments in the Platte River were per-formed to determine the streambed vertical hydraulic conductivity (Kv) values, which play an important role in controlling stream-aquifer interactions. The ground-water flow model integrates the geological, hydrological, precipitation, and soil information. The test-hole logs combining with the irrigation well logs were used to define the hydrostratigraphic units. The model is divided into 5 layers with 201 columns and 195 rows in each layer. The Platte River is simulated by the constant-head boundary package in MODFLOW. The model is calibrated using the groundwater level measurements of the USGS and local Natural Resources District observation wells from January 1950 to December 2004. The time interval of the calibration is divided into 660 stress periods, and each stress period consists of 10 time steps. Trial-and-error calibration is used to determine the hydraulic conductivity, specific yield, and specific storage of the aquifers and aquitards. Furthermore, the values of groundwater recharge and evapotranspiration are estimated by model calibration. After the model is well calibrated, it is used to determine the impacts of groundwater pumping over the 55 year periods on the streamflow in the Platte River.
Project Support Lower Platte North Natural Resources District
Project Website
Report
Current Status Underway
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Chen, Xun-Hong
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email xchen2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-0772
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=19
Project Information
Title Hydrologic Connections in the Elkhorn River Basin
Other(s) Sue Lackey, Conservation and Survey, slackey1@unl.edu 
Description This project involves investigating the hydrologic connections between streams and the adjacent aquifer systems in the Elkhorn River Basin. Researchers have used a Geoprobe direct-push technique, in-situ permeameter tests, and a thermal camera to collect data in this basin. Research has been conducted in Taylor Creek (west of the City of Madison), in Maple Creek, and two sites in the Elkhorn River near Norfolk and Meadow Grove. Ultimately this data will be used for integrated management of surface and groundwater resources.
Project Support Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District, Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District
Project Website
Report
Current Status Continuous
Pic 1 Project Image
Pic Caption 1 This image shows our work in the Elkhorn River near Meadow Grove and in Taylor Creek. 
Pic 2 Project Image 2
Pic Caption 2 Direct-push techniques used by UNL researchers for study of stream-aquifer connections in Madison County, Nebraska. 
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Cheng, Cheng
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email ccheng2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472 0772
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/graduatestudent-member.asp?pid=798
Project Information
Title Statistical Distribution of Streambed Vertical Hydraulic Conductivity along the Platte River, Nebraska
Other(s) Xun-Hong Chen, School of Natural Resources, xchen2@unl.edu, Jinxi Song, Deming Wang 
Description Streambed vertical hydraulic conductivity (Kv) plays an important role in understanding and quantifying the stream-aquifer interactions. While several researchers have discussed the spatial variability of streambed horizontal hydraulic conductivity or Kv at one or several close-located sites in a river, they did not develop any statistical distribution analysis of streambed Kv at distant sites along a large river. In this paper, the statistical distribution and spatial variation of streambed Kv at 18 test sites in a 300-km reach of the Platte River in Nebraska are presented. Insitu permeameter tests using the falling-head method were carried out to calculate the streambed Kv values. Fine-grained sediments transported by two tributaries, the Loup River and the Elkhorn River, to the Platte River appear to result in lower streambed Kv values downstream of the confluences between the Platte River and the tributaries. The streambed Kv values were found to be normally distributed at nearly each test site. When the correlated Kv values were eliminated from the grid sampling plots, the remaining independent sub-datasets of streambed Kv values were still in normal distribution at each test site. Furthermore, the combined streambed Kv values upstream of the first confluence between the Platte River and the Loup River was normally distributed, which may be due to the lack of tributaries in-between and thus streambed sediments were well distributed in this reach and belonged to a single population of hydraulic conductivity values. In contrast, the combined dataset of all measurements conducted downstream of this confluence was no longer in normal distribution, presumably as a result of the mixing of different sediment sources.
Project Support Lower Platte North Natural Resources District, Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University of Ministry of Education of China
Project Website
Report Cheng_Distribution.pdf
Current Status Published in Water Resources Management DOI 10.1007/s11269-010-9698-5
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Korus, Jesse
Unit Conservation and Survey Division
Email jkorus3@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-7561
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/staff-member.asp?pid=1010
Project Information
Title Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA)
Other(s)

Paul Hanson, School of Natural Resources / Conservation and Survey Division, phanson2@unl.edu; Sue Lackey, School of Natural Resources / Conservation and Survey Divison, slackey1@unl.edu; Matt Marxsen, School of Natural Resources / Conservation and Survey Division, mmarxsen2@unl.edu

Dana Divine, ENWRA Project Coordinator, ddivine@lpsnrd.org

Visit the Nebraska Maps and More website (http://nebraskamaps.unl.edu/home.asp) to order an excellent publication that describes this project more in-depth, Bulletin 1: Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA) Introduction to a Hydrogeological Study.

 
Description

Eastern Nebraska contains 70% of the state's population, but is most limited in terms of the state's groundwater supplies. The population in this region is expected to increase; thus the need for reliable water supplies is paramount. Natural resources districts (NRDs), charged with ground water management in Nebraska, seek to improve their management plans in response to growing populations, hydrologic drought, and new conjunctive management laws. Detailed mapping and characterization is necessary to delineate aquifers, assess their degree of hydrologic connection with streams and other aquifers, and better predict water quality and quantity.

In a collaborative effort between local, state, and federal agencies, the ENWRA project has been initiated to gain a clearer understanding of the region's groundwater and interconnected surface water resources. These resources can be difficult to characterize because of the complex geology created by past glaciations. Acquiring geologic and hydrologic data in the eastern, or glaciated, part of Nebraska requires the use of multiple, innovative techniques. Currently, little is known about which techniques are most effective and feasible. Once identified, the most effective and feasible tools will be used to provide data, interpretations, and models for improved water resources management.

The ENWRA group has established three pilot test sites for intensive study using a variety of investigative techniques. The goal of the initial work being done at the three pilot test sites is to determine the location, extent, and connectivity of aquifers with surface waters, with the hope of expanding these investigative techniques across other portions of eastern Nebraska. The pilot test sites are located near Oakland, Ashland, and Firth with each site exhibiting differing geologic conditions. The techniques that will be utilized in the study include: 1) helicopter electromagnetic (HEM) surveys; 2) ground-based geophysical surveys; 3) test hole drilling; and 4) geochemical analysis, just to name a few. So far HEM surveys were completed over approximately one township at each site. Other techniques were used to provide "ground truth" data to support the HEM interpretations.

The agencies involved in the ENWRA are:

  • Lower Platte South Natural Resources District
  • Lower Platte North Natural Resources District
  • Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District
  • Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District
  • Lewis and Clark Natural Resources District
  • Nemaha Natural Resources District
  • United States Geological Survey
  • University of Nebraska Lincoln Conservation and Survey Division
  • Nebraska Department of Natural Resources
  • Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Project Support Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Interrelated Water Management Plan/Program
Project Website http://www.enwra.org/
Report
Current Status HEM surveys are complete and 3-D aquifer diagrams have been prepared. Report Status: Ashland area report has been prepared and is under review and the Firth area report is being written.
Pic 1 Project Image
Pic Caption 1 Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA) Study Sites. 
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Lenters, John
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email jlenters2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-9044
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=743
Project Information
Title On Basin Residence Time and Annual Hydrology: Development of Annual Hydrology Model of the Sandhills Rivers
Other(s) Erkan Istanbulluoglu, University of Washington, erkani@u.washington.edu; Durelle Scott, Virginia Tech, dscott@vt.edu; Tiejun Wang, University of Washington-Seattle, tjwang@u.washington.edu 
Description

Simple models of annual and mean annual basin runoff and evapotranspration, such as the one proposed by Budyko, are useful for investigating the relationship between river flow and climate, and planning water storage structures in basins where long term streamflow measurements are not available. Such models are often based on the assumption that annual precipitation is in balance with annual runoff and evapotranspiration, and change in water storage of the basin is negligible. In basins where groundwater is the dominant source of streamflow this assumption hardly holds.

In this study first we develop a technique to investigate groundwater residence time to identify time scales over which a simple model of mean annual runoff can be meaningfully used. The model is applied in the Niobrara and Loup Rivers. Second we develop an annual hydrology model by solving the rate of change in basin storage. The runoff component of the model is based on the well-known linear reservoir model and a parameterization to characterize runoff on saturated areas. River water storages and streamflow diverted for irrigation are included as inputs in the model. The model explained as high as 80% of the annual variability of runoff in the Niobrara River at the Sparks gage. The model underscores the importance of saturation overland flow in the basin. Finally we used the model to investigate climate change scenarios, including extreme dry and wet conditions, as well as scenarios for the Medieval Warm Period during which Sandhills were destabilized as suggested by geological evidence.

Project presentation at the 2008 Water Colloquium

Project Support National Science Foundation
Project Website
Report Lenters_Groundwater.pdf
Current Status Published "On the role of groundwater and soil texture in the regional water balance: An investigation of the Nebraska Sand Hills", USA, Water Resour. Res., 45, W10413, doi:10.1029/2009WR007733.
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Rundquist, Donald
Unit Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies
Email drundquist1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-7536
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=103
Project Information
Title Nebraska Airborne Remote Sensing Program
Other(s) Rick Perk, CHAMP Project Manager, rperk1@unl.edu; Anatoly Gitelson, gitelson@calmit.unl.edu; Sunil Narumalani, sunil@calmit.unl.edu; Merlin Lawson, mlawson@calmit.unl.edu 
Description

CALMIT has joined forces with the UNL Department of Electrical Engineering and the UNO Aviation Institute to develop an aerial remote sensing research platform known as the Nebraska Airborne Remote Sensing Program (NARSP). A specially modified Piper Saratoga aircraft is being used as the base platform for deployment of a number of research grade remote sensing instruments. CALMIT's airborne remote sensing activities are centered around a suite of instruments associated with an AISA Eagle hyperspectral imaging system. This specific program is identified as CALMIT Hyperspectral Aerial Monitoring Program (CHAMP).

This technology has contributed to several projects:

  • To determine the condition and monitor the changing quality of Nebraska's 2500+ lakes and ponds - funded by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • To conduct a retrospective assessment of several different remote sensing platforms, with an emphasis on those remote sensing methods (e.g., airborne, Landsat, MODIS and MERIS) that most likely can be used for monitoring lakes routinely and operationally over a regional spatial extent - in collaboration with the North American Lake Management Society and the Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin
  • To conduct remote sensing of coral communities.
  • To identify and delineate areas of noxious weeds and invasive species by using satellite imagery, hyperspectral aerial imagery, and GPS technology to aid in inventory surveys and mapping of these areas and assess the effectiveness of ongoing weed management actions.
  • To use airborne and satellite remote sensing systems to investigate and improve approaches to managing wheat streak mosaic (WSM), the most severe disease of winter wheat in the Great Plains.
Project Support Platform Development - National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration; specific project support noted above when possible.
Project Website calmit.unl.edu/champ/index.php
Report
Current Status Continuous
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Barrow, Tadd
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email tbarrow2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-7783
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=140
Project Information
Title Use of Aluminum Sulfate to Eliminate Algal Toxins and Improve Water Quality
Other(s) Aris Efting, School of Natural Resources, aholz2@unl.edu 
Description

Nutrient loading, particularly phosphorus, has led to accelerated eutrophication of many sandpit lakes throughout Nebraska and has greatly reduced their recreational usage. Water quality problems include nuisance algal blooms, low water clarity, noxious odors, dissolved oxygen depletion, fish kills, and the presence of cyanobacterial algal toxins. Fremont State Lake #20 is a 20 hectare (50 acre) sandpit lake near Fremont, Nebraska and has very high phosphorus concentrations (TP > 130 ppb). The lake has experienced severe cyanobacterial algal blooms the past several years leading to frequent beach closings because of high algal toxin concentrations. From June 2004 through June 2006 the beach was closed for 25 weeks, making this one of the most impacted public lakes in the state for algal toxins. In October 2007, liquid aluminum sulfate was added to the lake to precipitate phosphorus from the water column and to reduce additional phosphorus inputs from the sediments. Compared to pre-treatment conditions, the aluminum sulfate has dramatically reduced water column phosphorus, reduced algal biomass, increased water clarity, and has eliminated algal toxins.

Project presentation at the 2008 Water Colloquium

Project Support Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Gitelson, Anatoly
Unit Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies
Email agitelson2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-8386
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=39
Project Information
Title Using Remote Sensing to Detect the Threat of Blue-Green Algae
Description

Remote sensing is a useful tool for providing regulatory officials with the data necessary to make decisions regarding recreational waters. In 2005, CALMIT scientists undertook a collaborative effort with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality aimed at developing a tool to identify lakes where blue-green algae populations are present. The overall purpose was to incorporate those affected lakes into a toxic-algae alert procedure to provide early warnings to the public about the potential danger. This project also served to promote coordination and information sharing about toxic-algae issues among local units of government, lake associations, lake owners, and the public.

Both in-situ (close-range) and remote techniques were employed to detect and quantify in real-time the algal phytoplankton pigment concentration and composition (i.e., chlorophyll-a and phycocyanin in the water column). Two criteria were used to identify lakes and reservoirs with high probability of toxic algae: 1) chlorophyll concentration above 50 mg/m3; and 2) existence of blue green algae (the phycocyanin absorption feature has been used to indicate remotely the presence of blue-green algae). These criteria were tested by analytical assessment of toxic algae and the tests were positive: when the sensor systems indicated high probability of toxins, they were found in water samples.

Project Support Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Project Website http://www.calmit.unl.edu/research.php
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Kolok, Alan
Unit Biology, UNO
Email akolok@mail.unomaha.edu
Phone 402-554-3545
Web Page http://www.unomaha.edu/envirotox/whoiam.php
Project Information
Title Occurrence and biological effect of exogenous steroids in the Elkhorn River, Nebraska
Other(s) Daniel D. Snow, School of Natural Resources, dsnow1@unl.edu; Satomi Kohno, Department of Zoology, University of Florida, kohno@ufl.edu; Marlo K. Sellin, Department of Biology, UNO, msellin@mail.unomaha.edu; Louis J. Guillette Jr., Department of Zoology, University of Florida, ljg@ufl.edu 
Description

Recent studies of surface waters in North America, Japan and Europe have reported the presence of steroidogenic agents as contaminants. This study had three objectives:

  1. to determine if steroidogenic compounds are present in the Elkhorn River,
  2. to determine if sediments collected from the Elkhorn River can act as a source of steroidogenic compounds to aquatic organisms, and
  3. to determine if site-specific biological effects are apparent in the hepatic gene expression of fathead minnows.

Evidence was obtained using three approaches:

  1. deployment of polar organic chemical integrative samplers (POCIS),
  2. deployment of caged fathead minnows, and
  3. a laboratory experiment in which POCIS and fish were exposed to sediments from the deployment sites.

Deployment sites included: the Elkhorn River immediately downstream from a Nebraska wastewater treatment plant, two waterways (Fisher Creek and Sand Creek) likely to be impacted by runoff from cattle feeding operations, and a reference site unlikely to be impacted by waste water inputs. The POCIS extracts were analyzed for a number of natural steroids and metabolites, as well as four different synthetic steroids: ethinylestradiol, zearalonol, 17-trenbolone and melengestrol acetate. Estrogenic and androgenic metabolites, as well as progesterone and trace levels of melengestrol acetate were detected in POCIS deployed at each site. POCIS deployed in tanks containing field sediments from the four sites did not accumulate the synthetic steroids except for ethinylestradiol, which was detected in the aquarium containing sediments collected near the wastewater treatment plant. Fish deployed in Sand Creek and at the wastewater treatment plant experienced significantly elevated levels of gene expression for two genes (StAR and P450scc) relative to those deployed in Fisher Creek. Fish exposed to the sediments collected from Sand Creek had significantly higher levels of hepatic StAR and P450scc gene expression than did fish exposed to sediments from the two other field sites, as well as the no-sediment control tank.

In conclusion:

  1. detectable levels of steroidogenic compounds were detected in passive samplers deployed in the Elkhorn River,
  2. sediments do not appear to be a significant source for steroidogenic compounds, and
  3. site-specific differences were found in mRNA expression among the different treatment groups of fish; however, a functional explanation for these differences is not readily forthcoming.
Project Support Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, U.S. Geological Survey's Section 104b Program as administered by the UNL Water Center, US Environmental Protection Agency Greater Opportunities Fellowship, Dr. Daniel Villeneuve, US Environmental Protection Agency
Project Website
Report Kolok_Elkhorn.pdf
Current Status Published in Science of the Total Environment 2007 388:104-115
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Kolok, Alan
Unit Biology, UNO
Email akolok@mail.unomaha.edu
Phone 402-554-3545
Web Page http://www.unomaha.edu/envirotox/whoiam.php
Project Information
Title The Watershed as A Conceptual Framework for the Study of Environmental and Human Health
Other(s) Cheryl L. Beseler, Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health, UNMC, cbeseler@unmc.edu; Xun-Hong Chen, School of Natural Resources, xchen2@unl.edu; Patrick J. Shea, School of Natural Resources, pshea1@unl.edu 
Description

The watershed provides a physical basis for establishing linkages between aquatic contaminants, environmental health and human health. Current attempts to establish such linkages are limited by environmental and epidemiological constraints. Environmental limitations include difficulties in characterizing the temporal and spatial dynamics of agricultural runoff, in fully understanding the degradation and metabolism of these compounds in the environment, and in understanding complex mixtures. Epidemiological limitations include difficulties associated with the organization of risk factor data and uncertainty about which measurable endpoints are most appropriate for an agricultural setting. Nevertheless, the adoption of the watershed concept can alleviate some of these difficulties. From an environmental perspective, the watershed concept helps identify differences in land use and application of agrichemicals at a level of resolution relevant to human health outcomes. From an epidemiological perspective, the watershed concept places data into a construct with environmental relevance. This project uses the Elkhorn River watershed as a case study to show how the watershed can provide a conceptual framework for studies in environmental and human health.

Environmental sampling is necessary for evaluating exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals (HDCs); however, sampling is not systematic in time or space, nor does it represent the time frame necessary to adequately link it to human disease outcomes. Although data from municipal sources are available and reliable, countless private drinking water wells go untested and unmonitored. These wells may be in areas vulnerable to concentrated reservoirs of contaminants due to the soil type, infiltration rate, runoff potential, organic matter and erodibility coupled with land use in the region and the chemical properties of the contaminants introduced into the environment. The lack of a defined boundary and introduction of exposure heterogeneity is one of the primary reasons why associations to health outcomes cannot be shown in environmental epidemiological studies.

The use of the watershed provides a natural boundary and the potential within this boundary to obtain denominator data. Based on the characteristics of the watershed combined with sampling data, shared exposures can be identified and intermediate hypotheses tested using sentinel markers of exposure in fish and humans. Lastly, comparable groups identified in other watersheds with similar characteristics but different surrounding land uses can be used to replicate findings.

Project Support Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Project Website
Report Kolok_Watershed.pdf
Current Status Published in Environmental Health Insights 2009 3:1-10
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Thomas, Steve
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email sthomas5@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-4030
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=745
Project Information
Title Understanding Cyanobacteria Blooms in Willow Creek Reservoir
Other(s) Amy Burgin, School of Natural Resources, aburgin2@unl.edu 
Description

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green or toxic algae, pose a health threat to people and animals that come in contact with lake water suffering from an algal bloom and result in economic hardships to local communities that depend on recreational dollars spent at lakes experiencing blooms. Willow Creek Reservoir near Pierce, Nebraska is one such lake that has experienced several cyanobacterial blooms since its construction in 1984. When placed on alert status due to cyanobacteria levels, the estimated impact is an 80% drop in boaters and beach goers, a 33% drop in camper numbers, and a 50% drop in angler visitation. Local stakeholders such as the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District wish to reduce these blooms to the extent possible. However, in order to do so, a better understanding of the causes of those blooms needs to be established.

This project proposes to achieve that understanding by: (1) characterizing cyanobacteria levels in Willow Creek Reservoir; (2) characterizing potential causes of those cyanobacteria blooms; (3) identifying relations between cyanobacteria levels in Willow Creek Reservoir and potential causes; and (4) sharing those findings with the public and local stakeholders to provide guidance for managing cyanobacteria in Willow Creek Reservoir. These tasks will be accomplished over a 3-year period through a collaborative effort between six separate agencies and by leveraging funding from local, state, and federal sources in addition to those requested from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund.

Project Support Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District
Project Website
Report
Current Status Underway
Topic Wildlife
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Anderson, Tara
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email taraleeanderson@huskers.unl.edu
Phone 402-432-5233
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/undergrad/anderson-tara.asp
Project Information
Title Population Dynamics of Shovelnose Sturgeon in the Lower Platte River
Other(s) Mark A. Pegg, School of Natural Resources, mpegg2@unl.edu; Martin Hamel, School of Natural Resources, mhamel2@unl.edu; Jeremy Hammen, School of Natural Resources, hammenj@huskers.unl.edu 
Description

Reduction in range and abundance of shovelnose sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorynchus over the past century has been primarily attributed to critical habitat loss, poor water quality, and overharvest. These declines have led to concerns about populations of this once ubiquitous sturgeon species in large rivers throughout their Mississippi River Basin-wide range. However, detailed analyses of shovelnose sturgeon populations do not exist in several potentially important portions of their range, such as the Platte River, Nebraska. Shovelnose sturgeon, for example have been documented in the Lower Platte River, Nebraska (i.e., Columbus, NE to Plattsmouth, NE), but little is known about their population dynamics. Additionally, indications that seasonal fishing pressure in the Lower Platte River may affect local abundances, growth and mortality rates, and age at maturity of shovelnose sturgeon create a need for obtaining more specific population information. Researchers have initiated a five year study of the shovelnose sturgeon population in the Lower Platte River to characterize the abundance, distribution, demography, population dynamics, and genetics of shovelnose sturgeon. For preliminary data from the first year of sampling, view the presentation via the website like below.

Click here to read Tara Anderson's Master's Thesis on Shovelnose Sturgeon Population Dynamics

Project Support Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Project Website http://watercenter.unl.edu/PRS/PRS2009/PPTs/Anderson%20Tara.pdf
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Wildlife
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Pegg, Mark (advisor)
Unit Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Email mpegg2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-6824
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=739
Project Information
Title Catfish Population Dynamics in the Platte River, Nebraska
Other(s) Tony J. Barada, abarada2@unl.edu 
Description

Catfish angling is popular throughout the United States and catfish are the most sought after fish species in the Platte River. However, catfish management in the Platte River is minimal as little is known about current populations. The objective of this study was to determine the current status of channel catfish and flathead catfish populations in the central and lower Platte River. Specifically, the study evaluated population characteristics including relative abundance, size structure, condition, age, growth and mortality.

Channel catfish are much more abundant than flathead catfish in the Platte River. The current Platte River channel catfish population appears to be average, comparable to many Nebraska and Midwestern rivers. Population characteristics displayed considerable variation along the Platte River and some longitudinal patterns were evident. Channel catfish in the central Platte River had lower relative abundances, higher condition, greater size structure, faster growth and lower mortality compared to lower Platte River channel catfish. Key factors likely influencing differences in channel catfish population characteristics are prey availability, flow modifications, habitat characteristics, tributary inflows and angler exploitation. Water manipulations from the Loup River Power Canal were also identified as a possible negative influence on lower Platte River channel catfish populations because hydropeaking is likely creating a stressful environment. However, channel catfish in the central Platte River appear to have benefited from recent high flows that likely increased productivity and food availability in the central Platte River.

Tony Barada's Master's Thesis on Catfish Population Dynamics in the Platte River

Project Support Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration
Project Website
Report
Current Status Graduate thesis project completed - thesis available at UNL CY Thompson Library (Call # LD3656 2009 .B373)
Topic Wildlife
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Young, Chelsey
Unit Biology, UNK
Email youngca2@unk.edu
Phone 507-469-8284
Web Page
Project Information
Title A range-wide assessment of plains topminnow (Fundulus sciadicus) distribution and potential threats
Other(s) W. Wyatt Hoback, Biology UNK, hobackww@unk.edu; Keith Koupal, Biology UNK; Justin Haas 
Description The plains topminnow, Fundulus sciadicus, was once distributed from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, north to South Dakota and as far south as Oklahoma. Two centers of distribution are recognized. One is centered in Nebraska and the second is centered in Missouri. The geographic range of plains topminnow has decreased in the past decades. Plains topminnow are now considered a species of special concern in the state of Nebraska and listed as a Tier 1 species in the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project. Elimination of plains topminnow populations has been associated with introduction of invasive species, as well as loss of backwater habitats due to drought and lowered water tables. The objective of this project is to provide an updated assessment of plains topminnow distribution and population status as compared to all available historical records. Between 2004 and the present, sampling of plains topminnow revealed that in Nebraska 77% of historic Nebraska sites no longer contain plains topminnow populations. The sampling of remaining historic sites in Nebraska and neighboring states will continue in the 2009 sampling season.
Project Support n/a
Project Website
Report topminnow_range_reduction.pdf
Current Status Completed