Featured USGS Research
The projects featured here are a sampling of work by the US Geological Survey. If your or your agency would like to feature projects, contact us.
U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet: The Ozark Highlands
If you would like to have your research project included here, please
- Factors Affecting Migration and Recruitment in Headwater Fish Assemblages of Buffalo National River
- The objectives of this study were to determine 1) the seasonal fluctuations in fish species composition, relative abundance, and size structure and its relationship to environmental variables in Bear Creek headwaters and other Ozark headwater streams, 2) movement of fishes between Bear Creek and the Buffalo National River and its relationship to environmental variables, and 3) larval fish drift densities and rates in the upstream, middle, and downstream reaches of Bear Creek and its relationship to stream discharge.
- Mercury Dynamics in Missouri Ozark Streams
- The objectives of this investigation were to (1) better define the extent of Hg contamination in stream ecosystems of southern Missouri, and (2) to investigate factors that may control or influence the fate of Hg in these streams through analysis of biota (fishes and invertebrates) for stable isotopes of nitrogen (N), carbon (C), and sulfur (S), and of other variables defining the nutritional status and growth histories of the fish.
- Phylogeographic Patterns of Thermal Tolerance: Predicting Ozark Crayfish Population Response to Climate Change
- The objective of this study is to evaluate the relative sensitivity of cold-water crayfish to climate change based on genetic analysis based on the heat-inducible hsp70 gene. This information will be used to design degenerate primers to conserved regions of hsp70 for sequencing of the hsp70 gene in the coldwater crayfish.
- Determine the Sensitivity of Ozark Mussels to Zinc, Lead, and Cadmium in Water and Sediment
- The objectives of this study are: (1) adapt laboratory methods for conducting water and sediment toxicity tests toxicity tests with glochidia and juveniles of mussels native to the Ozarks;
(2) evaluate the toxicity of zinc, lead, and cadmium in laboratory exposures with water or sediment to sensitive life stages of mussels native to the Ozark Plateau; and
(3) evaluate distributions of mussel species at a metal-contaminated site within the Ozark Plateau or transplant mussels to a metal-contaminated sites to evaluate potential effects of metal exposure.
- Relations Among Geology, Physiography, Land Use, and Stream Habitat Conditions in the Buffalo and Current River Systems, Missouri and Arkansas
- This study investigated links between drainage-basin characteristics and stream habitat conditions in the Buffalo National River, Arkansas and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri. It was designed as an associative study - the two parks were divided into their principle tributary drainage basins and then basin-scale and stream-habitat data sets were gathered and compared between them. Analyses explored the relative influence of different drainage-basin characteristics on stream habitat conditions. They also investigated whether a relation between land use and stream characteristics could be detected after accounting for geologic and physiographic differences among drainage basins.
Concentrations of Metals in Aquatic Invertebrates from the Ozark National
Scenic Riverways, Missouri
- This study was conducted as a pilot for part of a park-wide monitoring
program being developed for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR)
of southeastern Missouri. The objective was to evaluate using crayfish
(Orconectes spp.) and Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea)
for monitoring concentrations of metals associated with lead-zinc mining.
Lead-zinc mining presently (2007) occurs near the ONSR and additional
mining has been proposed. Samples were analyzed by inductively coupled
plasma mass spectrometry for lead, zinc, cadmium, cobalt, and nickel
- Evaluation of Contaminant Risks to the Endangered Tumbling Creek Cavesnail
The Tumbling Creek cavesnail (Antrobia culveri) is restricted to a single cave stream in Taney County, Missouri. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service classified this species as Endangered in 2002, based on recent population surveys that documented recent sharp decreases in its population. Along with remedial efforts in the surface watershed, USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center scientists have investigated factors that may limit recovery of cavesnail populations. Chemical analysis of metals and persistent organic contaminants in sediments from cavesnail habitat did not identify elevated contaminant levels, and laboratory toxicity tests with these sediments did not show evidence of toxicity.
Mapping Vegetation Communities in Ozark National Scenic Riverways
- Vegetation communities were mapped at two levels in Ozark National
Scenic Riverways (ONSR) using a hybrid combination of statistical methods
and photointerpretation. The primary map includes 49 cover classes,
including 24 classes that relate to vegetation associations currently
described by the United States National Vegetation Classification Standard.
Important additional products include 1) a general probability map for
all vegetation associations, and 2) individual probability maps for
each association. A field key and photo guide to assocations and complete
community descriptions were produced, along with a photo guide of fuel
Ozarks Stream Geomorphology
- This project was a multidisciplinary study to determine cause-and-effect links between
historical land-use changes, climatic shifts, and the quality and stability
of stream habitat in the Ozarks. This technical document describes a method for mapping stream habitats with hydraulic models.
Also included in this project were studies on Tributary Land Use and
Aquatic Habitat Quality, Buffalo National River and Ozark National Scenic
Riverways and an Assessment of Physical Stream Habitat, Bear Creek, Arkansas.
- Passive sampling of organic contaminants in karst groundwater systems inhabited by endangered Ozark cavefish
- We conducted a study to describe groundwater chemical concentrations in sites inhabited by the Ozark cavefish (Amblyopsis rosae). Purposes of the study included characterizing baseline conditions and identifying potential threats to water quality to enhance conservation of the species and these unique systems, and demonstrating a novel application of passive sampling devices.
The systems selected for study included six karst groundwater systems in southwest Missouri.
Although the individual, acute concentrations of chemicals detected were low, the potential impact on sensitive species such as the Ozark cavefish from exposure to these chemicals is not known.
- Contact: David Alvarez
- Land Cover Change
in the Ozark Highlands 1973-2000
Land Cover Change in the Boston Mountains, 1973-2000
The Land-Cover Trends Project was initiated in 1999 and aims to document the types, geographic distributions, and rates of land-cover change on a region by region basis for the conterminous United States, and to determine some of the key drivers and consequences of the change.
Geologic Mapping Studies at Buffalo National River, Northern Arkansas
Detailed geologic mapping is being conducted by the U.S. Geological
Survey in and adjacent to the Buffalo National River, a park administered
by the National Park Service, to better understand and characterize
the natural resources and associated ecosystems of this area within
the Ozark Plateau region. General-purpose geologic maps are created
to provide a framework for a host of natural resource, natural history,
and public education uses.
- Ozarks Mineral Deposits Workgroup
- The purpose of our workgroup was to provide scientific information
on the economic and environmental characteristics of Ozark-region mineral
deposits. Most of our investigations were centered on the world class
lead-zinc ore deposits of the Ozarks region. These deposits are commonly
known as Mississippi Valley Type (MVT)
- Periphyton Communities in Streams of the Ozark Plateaus and their Relations to Selected Environmental Factors
- During August through September of 1993-95, 83 periphyton samples were collected at 51 stream sites in the Ozark Plateaus. These sites were classified into six land-use categories (forest, agriculture, mining, urban, urban/mining, and mix), based on land-use percentages in the basin upstream from the site.
Results indicate that periphyton communities of riffles in Ozark streams are affected by both natural and human factors. These factors include nutrients, dissolved organic carbon, alkalinity, canopy shading, suspended sediment, embeddedness, stream morphometry, and velocity.
- Tri-State Ground-Water Modeling
- To assess the effect that increased water use is having on the long-term availability of groundwater within the Ozark Plateaus aquifer system, a groundwater-flow model was developed using MODFLOW 2000 for a model area covering 7,340 square miles for parts of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
- Beaver Lake Water Quality and Quantity and Modeling
- Beaver Lake is a large, deep-storage reservoir located in the White River Basin in northwestern Arkansas and is considered a primary watershed of concern in Arkansas. A water-quality monitoring program at numerous tributary inflows and lake sites has been ongoing to construct a data record for further water-quality assessment, trend analysis, and water-quality modeling. The purpose of the modeling study is to develop a real-time decision-support system for sustainable and adaptive management of Beaver Lake.
- Geohydrological and Biological Investigations Associated with Lead-Zinc
Exploration and Mining in Southeastern Missouri
- In response to diminishing economic ore reserves in the Viburnum Trend, exploration for new sources of lead-zinc ore began in an area south of Winona, Missouri, and north of the Eleven Point River. Much of the exploration drilling is in the Mark Twain National Forest, which is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Forest Service (FS) and U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management BLM).
The exploration area is within a region highly valued for its scenic
beauty and recreational opportunities, including two federally designated
scenic rivers that are visited annually by more than 2 million people:
the Ozark National Scenic Riverways
(ONSR) administered by the National
Park Service (NPS); and the Eleven Point National Scenic River (EPNSR)
administered by the FS.
Ozark Plateaus National Water Quality Assessment Program
- The long-term goals of this program are to describe the status and
trends in the quality of a large, representative part of the Nation's
surface- and ground-water resources, and to provide a sound, scientific
understanding of the primary factors affecting the quality of these
Ozark Aquifer Study
- The Ozark Aquifer is an important water supply source for cities, rural water districts, agriculture, and industry in southeast Kansas, southwest Missouri, and northeast Oklahoma. Water supply wells in some areas of the Ozark aquifer have experienced water level declines in recent years. With a growing demand for water within the region, concerns about future water availability prompted by water-level declines and water-quality degradation, mostly in Kansas, have created a need to better understand this valuable resource in order to better address its long-term management.
Assessment of Possible Sources of Microbiological Contamination in the
Water Column and Streambed Sediment of the Jacks Fork, Ozark National
Scenic Riverways, Missouri
- The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with
the National Park Service, conducted a study to better understand the
extent and sources of microbiological contamination within the Jacks
Fork from Alley Spring to the mouth, which includes the 7-mile 303(d)
reach. The study was completed in 2006. Results indicate that recreational users (including boaters and
swimmers) are not the primary source of fecal coliform bacteria in the
Jacks Fork; rather, the presence of fecal coliform bacteria is associated
with other animals, of which horses are the primary source. Increases
in fecal coliform bacteria densities in the Jacks Fork are associated
with cross-country horseback trail-riding events.
Geohydrologic Investigations and Landscape Characteristics of Areas
Contributing Water to Springs, the Current River, and Jacks Fork, Ozark
National Scenic Riverways, Missouri
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) is a narrow corridor that stretches for approximately 134 miles along the Current River and Jacks Fork in southern Missouri. Most of the water flowing in the Current River and Jacks Fork is discharged to the rivers from springs within the ONSR, and most of the recharge area of these springs is outside the ONSR. This report describes geohydrologic investigations and landscape characteristics of areas contributing water to springs and the Current River and Jacks Fork in the ONSR.
Development of Missouri Ecological Landtypes
A group of state, federal and university scientists has been working together since 1998 to develop an ecological classification system (ECS) for the state of Missouri. An ECS is a framework that allows natural resource managers to identify, map, and describe land with similar physical and biological characteristics at scales suitable for natural resources planning and management.
The Missouri ECS Project has been applying the US Forest Service National Hierarchical Framework of Ecological Units to ecological land mapping in Missouri. This is a systematic method for classifying and mapping the earth’s surface based on ecological associations at various geographic scales. The Section, Subsection and Landtype Association levels are described in the Atlas of Missouri Ecoregions. This work has already been used as the framework for the MDC Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy and other ecological planning efforts in Missouri (e.g., The Nature Conservancy, and American Bird Conservancy). The next and final ecological units to be mapped and described are Ecological Landtypes (ELTs).
Ecological Landtypes are the most detailed scale of land units within the ECS framework (i.e., 10-100s of acres). These are site-scale or management scale units that define local ecosystems or communities that exist within a given landscape. Specifically, ELTs recognize variations in landforms, topography, soils, and ecological disturbance factors that ultimately affect the potential vegetation associations within an area.
A detailed poster of the progress was presented at the 2009 Missouri Natural Resources Conference.
For more information, contact:
Missouri Department of Conservation
Missouri Resource Assessment Partnership
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Missouri Department of Natural Resources
USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station
University of Missouri School of Natural Resources