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McNair Scholar 2017Mallory Mintz

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Research project

Tracing Sediment Source Response to Water Infrastructure Development and Management in Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Montanat

Abstract: Medicine Lake, within the Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge complex in Eastern Montana, is a crucial stopover point for migratory birds traveling between wintering and breeding sites at opposite ends of the Central North American Flyway. Following two episodes of Medicine Lake drying completely in 1900 and 1935, the Civilian Conservation Corps installed water control structures within the lake, including a large diversion channel from nearby Big Muddy Creek, in order to mitigate habitat loss during future periods of drought. Water level management practices since this time introduced an unknown amount of sediment into the lake basin, with unknown impacts to the lake ecosystem and associated wildlife. To constrain sediment fluxes within Medicine Lake, we analyzed magnetic and physical properties of four sediment cores that each capture 19th century to present sedimentation within the lake. We compare characteristic magnetic properties of sediments from sites proximal to historic water control infrastructure to more distal sites in order to evaluate the effects of such structures on historic sediment flux. Download poster. [PDF]