First Advisor

Heejun Chang

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography






Water -- Dissolved oxygen -- Oregon -- Rock Creek Watershed, Urbanization -- Oregon -- Rock Creek Watershed, Water quality -- Oregon -- Rock Creek Watershed, Linear free energy relationship



Physical Description

1 online resource (128 p.)


In-stream aquatic habitat depends on adequate levels of dissolved oxygen. Human alteration of the landscape has an extensive influence on the biogeochemical processes that drive oxygen cycling in streams. Historic datasets allow researchers to track trends in chemical parameters concomitant with urbanization, while land cover change analysis allows researchers to identify linkages between water quality trends and landscape change.

Using the Seasonal Kendall's test, I examined water quality trends in oxygen demand variables during the mid-1990s to 2003, for twelve sites in the Rock Creek sub-watershed of the Tualatin River, northwest Oregon. Significant trends occurred in each parameter. Dissolved oxygen (DO (%sat)) increased at five sites. Chemical oxygen demand (COD) decreased at seven sites. Total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) decreased at five sites and increased at one site. Ammonium (NH3-N) decreased at one site and increased at one site. Multiple linear regression indicates that nitrogenous oxygen demand accounts for a significant amount of variance in COD at ten of the twelve sites (adjusted R2values from 0.14 to 0.73).

Aerial photo interpretation revealed significant land cover change in agricultural land cover (-8% for the entire basin area) and residential land cover (+10% for the entire basin area). Correlation results between seasonal oxygen demand data and land cover values at multiple scales indicated that: (I) forest cover negatively influences COD at the full sub-basin scale and positively influences NH3-N at local scales, (2) residential land cover positively influences DO (%sat) values at local scales, (3) agricultural land cover does not influence oxygen demand at any land cover assessment scale, ( 4) local topography negatively influences TKN and NH3-N, and (5) urban runoff management infrastructure correlates positively with COD. Study results indicate that, with the exception of forested land, local scale land cover and landscape variables dominate influence on oxygen demand in the Rock Creek basin. Since DO conditions have improved in these streams, watershed management efforts should emphasize local influences in order to continue to maintain stream health.


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