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Using historical biological data to evaluate status and trends in the big Darby Creek watershed (Ohio, USA).

Schubauer-Berigan MK; Smith M; Hopkins J; Cormier SM
Environ Toxicol Chem 2000 Apr; 19(4)(Pt 2):1097-1105
Assessment of watershed ecological status and trends is challenging for managers who lack randomly or consistently sampled data, or monitoring programs developed from a watershed perspective. This study investigated analytical approaches for assessment of status and trends using data collected by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency as part of state requirements for reporting stream quality and managing discharge permits. Fish and benthic macroinvertebrate metrics collected during three time periods (1979-1981, 1986-1989, 1990-1993) were analyzed for the mainstem of Big Darby Creek, a high-quality warm-water stream in central Ohio, USA. Analysis of variance of transformed metrics showed significant differences among time periods for six fish metrics. In addition, significant positive linear trends were observed for four metrics plus the index of biotic integrity score, and negative linear trends for two fish metrics. An analysis of a subset of sites paired by location and sampled over the three periods reflected findings using all available data for the mainstem. In particular, mean estimates were very similar between the reduced and full data sets, whereas standard error estimates were much greater in the reduced subset. Analysis of serial autocorrelation patterns among the fish metrics over the three time periods suggests changes in the nature of stressors over time. A comparison within the most recent time period showed significantly better condition for Big Darby Creek mainstem than for Hellbranch Run (the easternmost subwatershed), after adjusting for watershed size. The consistency of paired and nonrandomized results suggested that either type of data might be judiciously used for this watershed assessment. Results indicated that overall biological condition of the mainstem of the Big Darby Creek watershed has significantly improved since the early 1980s.
Biological monitoring; Ecological systems; Sampling; Monitors; Monitoring systems; Author Keywords: bioindicators; biomonitoring; spatial autocorrelation; watershed management
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 46226
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Journal Article
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Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division