An agent-based model that simulates the spatio-temporal dynamics of sources and transfer mechanisms contributing faecal indicator organisms to streams. Part 2: Application to a small agricultural catchment

Aaron J. Neill* (Corresponding Author), Doerthe Tetzlaff, Norval J. C. Strachan, Rupert L. Hough, Lisa M. Avery, Marco P. Maneta, Chris Soulsby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The new Model for the Agent-based simulation of Faecal Indicator Organisms (MAFIO) is applied to a small (0.42 km2) Scottish agricultural catchment to simulate the dynamics of E. coli arising from sheep and cattle farming, in order to provide a proof-of-concept. The hydrological environment for MAFIO was simulated by the “best” ensemble run of the tracer-aided ecohydrological model EcH2O-iso, obtained through multi-criteria calibration to stream discharge (MAE: 1.37 L s-1) and spatially-distributed stable isotope data (MAE: 1.14-3.02‰) for the period April-December 2017. MAFIO was then applied for the period June-August for which twice-weekly E. coli loads were quantified at up to three sites along the stream. Performance in simulating these data suggested the model has skill in capturing the transfer of faecal indicator organisms (FIOs) from livestock to streams via the processes of direct deposition, transport in overland flow and seepage from areas of degraded soil. Furthermore, its agent-based structure allowed source areas, transfer mechanisms and host animals contributing FIOs to the stream to be quantified. Such information is likely to have substantial value in the context of designing and spatially-targeting mitigation measures against impaired microbial water quality. This study also revealed, however, that avenues exist for improving process conceptualisation in MAFIO (e.g. to include FIO contributions from wildlife) and highlighted the need to quantitatively assess how uncertainty in the spatial extent of surface flow paths in the simulated hydrological environment may affect FIO simulations. Despite the consequent status of MAFIO as a research-level model, its encouraging performance in this proof-of-concept study suggests the model has significant potential for eventual incorporation into decision support frameworks.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • Diffuse pollution
  • E. coli
  • EcH2O-iso
  • Microbial water quality
  • Tracer-aided modelling
  • Water quality modelling

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'An agent-based model that simulates the spatio-temporal dynamics of sources and transfer mechanisms contributing faecal indicator organisms to streams. Part 2: Application to a small agricultural catchment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this