Pamela D. Cox

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Thomas Bragg


Stream conditions were assessed for past and present landscapes of the Papillion Creek Watershed of northwest Omaha, Nebraska based on historical records, present land-use surveys and field data collected in June 2000 using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Rapid Bioassessment Protocol modified to meet the needs of the study. Less than 0.4% of the historic tallgrass Prairie remains, with the present landscape mostly in agriculture (83%) or residential-commercial developments (16%). No significant differences (P ≤ 0.05) were found between ten habitat parameters measured for each of three land-used categories, cultivated, residential-commercial, and other. The overall impact of increased land-use on the Papillion Creek was reflected in marginal conditions (1 = poor; 20 = optimal) for all ten habitat parameters evaluated although not all work equally as effected: Epifaunal Substrate/Available Cover (mean score = 8.3), Pool Substrate Characterization (mean score = 8.8), Pool Variability (mean score = 7.0), Sediment Deposition (mean score = 9.0), Channel Flow (mean score = 10.8), Channel Alteration (mean score = 8.3), Channel Sinuosity (mean score = 6.8), Bank Stability (mean score = 5.2), Vegetative Protection (mean score = 6.2), and Riparian Vegetative Zone Width (mean score = 3.4). Compared to the degree of channel alteration, Channel Sinuosity was the habitat parameter most significantly affected (P ≤ 0.000+). In combination, these results quantify the impact of urban expansion on stream ecosystems and support arguments for minimizing development along waterways in order to maintain the ecosystem services and habitat diversity that they provide to urban areas.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Biology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2002 Pamela D. Cox.

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