Contrary to popular belief, in most urban areas the tree canopy is significant. Most leaves drop in the fall, and find their way into storm drains and into streams, providing a large “gutter subsidy” of organic matter and nutrients to aquatic ecosystems. This organic carbon takes many forms and is used by stream organisms throughout the food web. Removing leaves from gutters can be a stormwater practice aimed at keeping nutrients out of the stream, but these can also be used as fertilizer for plants, e.g., in rain gardens. Ken Belt has been studying the gutter subsidies and stream health for decades. Join us to learn what happens when forestry meets engineering and stream ecosystems.
Ken worked for Baltimore City DPW for 19 years on urban stormwater, reservoir limnology, watershed management and many stream and runoff monitoring projects. For the next 20 years he was a USDA Forest Service hydrologist and aquatic ecologist, where he was assigned to the Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER. Ken is currently an occasional instructor and part time consultant for the department of Geography and Environmental Systems at UMBC. He is also a new curator for NHSM where he is starting an aquatic insect collection and planning various identification training and education venues.
Ken’s research interests focus on the interactions between stream biogeochemistry and ecological structure and function, and how these are affected by the mosaic of forests and engineered infrastructure on and within urban landscapes. Currently he is encouraging the use of ecohydrological principles in the designing of stormwater management networks, in particular those using a Nature Based Solutions (NBS) approach.
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