Mikaila Davis ’23 Studies Environmental Conditions in Springs
Mikaila Davis ’23 is an Environmental Geology major working with thesis advisor Sue Swanson. She studies environmental conditions in springs and their importance to spring dwelling organisms.
Springs are essential to ecosystem health due to the freshwater they provide our communities and the refuge they provide for certain species that can only exist within a spring’s habitat. Previous studies have determined that springs are threatened within the Upper Midwestern United States due to local and regional impacts. Evidence suggests that aquifer depletion, surface runoff, agricultural contamination, recreational activities, and climate change result in the degradation of spring water quality. Further research is needed to determine optimal conditions for the distribution and concentration of fauna within Midwestern springs and how these may be affected by anthropogenic activities and environmental change.
This research analyzes existing published data from the Midwest and similar climate environments in order to establish a reference assemblage of critical conditions that allow for the highest activity of macroinvertebrate diversity and richness. The conditions that are of importance in this study include temperature, flow regime, and substrata. These will be investigated by evaluating the database from the Inventory of Springs in Wisconsin (Swanson et al., 2019.) The hydrology features pulled from this dataset will allow for statistical tests such as the T-test and Shannon’s Diversity Index to be run. Ultimately, the data analyzed in this research from this thesis will determine a relative baseline for the key conditions that support biological integrity of springs and provide a natural baseline for future research.