Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)

Document Type





Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. James Fox


Small lowland agricultural systems promote conditions where benthic biological communities can thrive. These biogeochemical processes have significant impacts on terrestrial ecosystem processes including POC flux and fate, nutrient balances, water quality budges, and aquatic biological functioning. Limited information is available on coupled biological and hydrologic processes in fluvial systems. This study investigates the mixture of biological and hydrologic processes in the benthic layer in order to understand POC cycling in the South Elkhorn system. Further, comprehensive modeling of POC flux in lowland systems has not been performed previously and the behavior of potentially controlling variables, such as hydrologic forcing and seasonal temperature regimes, is not well understood. Conceptual hydraulic and sediment transport models were simulated for the South Elkhorn. Based on data and model results it was concluded that during a hydrologic event, upland and bank sources produce high variability of POC sources. Likewise, over time, the density of hydrologic events influenced accrual of benthic algal biomass in the POC pool. Environmental variables such as temperature and light availability drove seasonal variations of POC in the streambed. Based on model estimates, around 0.29 metric tCkm-2yr-1 of POC is flushed from the system annually with 13 % coming from autochthonous algae.