Date of Award

6-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Mikhailova, Elena A

Committee Member

Post, Christopher J

Committee Member

Sharp, Julia L

Abstract

Riparian buffer zones (RBZ’s) are critical for protecting water quality both in channel and downstream. High Resolution Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) provides a way to locate where water is flowing through a channel into an RBZ and then into a stream. The objectives of this study were to characterize riparian buffer zones around Lake Issaqueena, SC and streams flowing into the lake by channel presence: ephemeral, intermittent, and perennial; to relate channel presence to buffer width and buffer cover composition via soil moisture content and buffer width, and to validate potential differences in LiDAR versus field observations via soil moisture content and soil temperature. A LiDAR derived DEM was utilized in ArcGIS to define flow channels and determine forty locations for field measurements (soil moisture, buffer width, buffer composition, and a thermal image of the soil) around Lake Issaqueena. LiDAR indicated channels were ephemeral with large buffers generally ten meters or greater (except where locations were located on private property). High flow accumulation channels can be accurately predicted by LiDAR data, but not for low and moderate flow channels. Surface soil temperature measurements were relatively uniform with some extremes and showed no difference between sample locations and control locations indicating that channel presence cannot be accurately predicted using surface soil temperature. These presented methodologies can serve as a template for future efforts to quantify riparian buffers and their effects on protecting in-stream habitat and water quality.

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