, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 1287-1300

A Rapid Method to Score Stream Reaches Based on the Overall Performance of Their Main Ecological Functions

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Abstract

A method was developed to score the ecological condition of first- to third-order stream reaches in the Auckland region of New Zealand based on the performance of their key ecological functions. Such a method is required by consultants and resource managers to quantify the reduction in ecological condition of a modified stream reach relative to its unmodified state. This is a fundamental precursor for the determination of fair environmental compensation for achieving no-net-loss in overall stream ecological value. Field testing and subsequent use of the method indicated that it provides a useful measure of ecological condition related to the performance of stream ecological functions. It is relatively simple to apply compared to a full ecological study, is quick to use, and allows identification of the degree of impairment of each of the key ecological functions. The scoring system was designed so that future improvements in the measurement of stream functions can be incorporated into it. Although the methodology was specifically designed for Auckland streams, the principles can be readily adapted to other regions and stream types.