Award Date

5-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Environmental Science

Advisor 1

Krystyna A. Stave, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Environmental Studies

Advisor 2

Timothy J. Farnham, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies

Number of Pages

38

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to analyze the effect of emergent plant communities at Las Vegas Wash (the System) using a system dynamics modeling approach. Understanding the dynamics of nitrogen (N —major polluting nutrient in the Wash) that enters the System is important because it occasionally causes algal blooms, choking Lake Mead through excessive eutrophication. Emergent plant communities are an integral part of wetland ecosystems and they play a crucial role in natural treatment of nutrients. This study is intended to test this hypothesis.

The study makes use of Wash data from reliable sources (Las Vegas Valley Water District, Las Vegas Wash Coordination Committee, USGS, Clark County Sanitation District, and literature review) to examine spatial and temporal changes of different nitrogen species; to describe causal relationships between major environmental variables and feedback mechanisms that make up the System; to ascertain major inflows and outflows (rates at which a variable enters or exits a stock), stocks (the accumulation of a variable within the system), sources, and sinks; and to simulate the System's behavior over time by changing the values of the environmental variables that make up the model. The model will help us identify policy levers hi the System including the effect of emergent plant communities.

The study is important because there is an ongoing restoration of the wetlands at the Las Vegas Wash and it is critical to understand how the nutrients accumulate and flow through the System. Efficient management of the wetland plant communities is crucial for the improvement of the biological treatment that takes place there. The dynamics of nutrient accumulation at these plant communities need to be understood better to evaluate means for managing the removal of nitrogen from the System most effectively: The model is intended to simulate results of harvesting emergent plants before they become detritus through litter fall.

Keywords

Las Vegas Wash (Nev.); Nevada; Nutrient pollution of water; Water nitrogen content; Water pollution environmental aspects; Wetlands plants

Disciplines

Desert Ecology | Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Monitoring | Environmental Sciences | Natural Resources and Conservation | Plant Sciences | Water Resource Management

Language

English