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K-State Today

October 27, 2022

Leon A. Barmuta to present Division of Biology Seminar

Submitted by Division of Biology

Leon A. Barmuta, associate professor in the School of Natural Sciences at the University of Tasmania and Fulbright scholar, will present "Small, Forested Headwater Streams and Their Riparia: Are Forest Managers and Ecologists Ready for Climate Change?" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, in 221 Ackert Hall.

Small headwater streams comprise as much as 40% of the catchment area of river basins and are important for aquatic biodiversity, ecosystem processes and services. To mitigate changes in forest management, stream ecologists have obsessed with riparian protection, while hydrologists have been obsessed with water yield and geomorphologists obsessed with managing source areas to minimize erosion. Meaningful connections between these disciplines have been difficult to forge and maintain thus hampering managers' abilities to develop joined-up responses to changes in forest management. Perversely, the challenges presented by climate change might provoke more meaningful collaboration. In lutruwita/Tasmania, global heating won't result in uniform drying of streams across the island. All models suggest strong regional differences in precipitation changes. Some catchments may transition from permanent to intermittent streams, while others will experience more frequent and intense high flows. Accordingly, managers and researchers will need to modify the one-size-fits-all set of prescriptions embodied in the current forest practices code. However, our greatest ignorance is about the aquatic impacts of changes in fire regimes. Even if pre-European fire regimes were re-established, we face more frequent and intense fire seasons. Accordingly, Barmuta hopes to use part of his Fulbright time at K-State to break out of his forest silo and interact with stream and catchment researchers who work outside the forestry bubble and look forward to sharing hopes and fears for the ecology of small, headwater streams in the coming decades.

If you would like to visit with Barmuta, please contact Walter Dodds at wkdodds@k-state.edu