Date of Award

Spring 2012

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

William McDowell


Piped streams, or streams that run underground, are common features in urban areas. However, there is little empirical evidence regarding their ecological structure and function. This study measured ecosystem metabolism, nutrient uptake, and related characteristics of Pettee Brook -- an urban stream that flows through several pipes under impervious surfaces near the UNH (Durham) campus.

Piped and open reaches of Pettee Brook had similar water quality, nutrient uptake, and ER. However, the absence of light in piped reaches led to their complete loss of GPP. Benthic AFDM and chlorophyll a biomass were also significantly reduced in piped reaches. For both open and piped reaches, spring metabolism and nutrient uptake were elevated compared to summer rates.

The results suggest that ecological conditions in piped streams may be degraded beyond the extent of other urban stream reaches. However, piped stream reaches may still offer some ecosystem services such as nutrient uptake during ER.