Isotope Tracing in the Libby Creek Watershed
presentationposted on 13.10.2014, 00:00 by Wil Chapple
New research, using water isotope tracers, has indicated that the plant-water relationships of mountain ecosystems may be more complicated than previous scientific thought believed the relationship to be. Recent research by Brooks et al. 2010, indicated that plants were not consuming water from below ground stream flow. This knowledge significantly changes the way plant communities were thought to affect watersheds. My EPSCoR research project seeks to determine whether similar phenomena are occurring in the Snowy Range Mountains and specifically within the Libby Creek watershed. I have begun to answer this question by gathering isotope samples of the snowpack to determine the local meteoric water line. Using this information I will then over the summer period collect samples of soil, tree and water flow and measure the isotope levels of water molecules in these samples to find how close they are to the local meteoric water line. Understanding the hydrologic details in the Snowy Range will lead to better management of our water resources.