Exploring Biologically Relevant Buffer Zones for Aquatic and Wetland Ecosystems in Northern Mississippi

Author(s): Ervin, G.

Intact natural buffers surrounding streams and wetlands can reduce nutrient runoff into the water column, reduce sedimentation, and maintain or enhance general habitat quality for wildlife. However, a major obstacle in efforts at water quality improvement relates to the appropriate definition of what constitutes a sufficient buffer, in terms of buffer width or type of land cover within the buffer. The present studies evaluated patterns of correlation between land cover and wetland vegetation or aquatic biota to investigate optimal buffer widths associated with ecological integrity of inland freshwater streams and wetlands in northern Mississippi. Results indicated that the presence of a forested buffer (i.e., natural forest, silvicultural plantings, or a combination) of 70 to 100m in width was associated with an increase in ecological quality. Here, quality was represented as either the presence of species of high ecological conservation value, presence of plant species adapted to wetland conditions, or the absence of non-native plant species. On the other hand, landscape-scale disturbances were correlated with decreased ecological quality. For example, at proximities of 50m and beyond, there was a consistent association of agricultural land cover with the presence of non-native plant species in northern Mississippi wetlands. The conclusion is that intact, undisturbed buffers help to minimize negative impacts of land use on wetland and aquatic assemblages in the study area, but biological evidence of human activities remains, even where buffers are present.


Technical Presentations

  • Delta Water Quality
  • Delta Water and Agriculture
  • Wetlands
  • Water Quality
  • Sediments
  • Non-Point
  • Management and Sustainability
  • Wood Treatment
  • Modeling
  • Soil and Water Treatment


Responsible Site Design: Implementing Innovative Stormwater Management Strategies

The primary goal of the workshop is to create a dynamic learning experience that examines the role of stormwater management in the built environment. The workshop will focus on integrating ecologically sound water management approaches into site design. After the workshop, attendees will be familiar with the following concepts and technical issues:

  • Knowledge of the stormwater treatment chain
  • Knowledge of the impact of land use codes on stormwater management
  • Application of a design process that mitigates the effects of stormwater on-site
  • Knowledge of the relationship between land use codes and design for innovative stormwater management


For information contact:
Jessie Schmidt
Box 9680
Mississippi State, MS 39762