Advertisement

Environmental Management

, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 669–683 | Cite as

Understanding Stream Geomorphic State in Relation to Ecological Integrity: Evidence Using Habitat Assessments and Macroinvertebrates

  • S. Mažeika
  • P. SullivanEmail author
  • Mary C. Watzin
  • W. Cully Hession
RESEARCH

ABSTRACT

Scientists have long assumed that the physical structure and condition of stream and river channels have pervasive effects on biological communities and processes, but specific tests are few. To investigate the influence of the stream-reach geomorphic state on in-stream habitat and aquatic macroinvertebrate communities, we compared measures of habitat conditions and macroinvertebrate community composition between stable and unstable stream reaches in a paired-study design. We also explored potential associations between these ecological measures and individual geomorphic characteristics and channel adjustment processes (degradation, aggradation, overwidening, and change in planform). We found that habitat quality and heterogeneity were closely tied to stream stability, with geomorphically stable reaches supporting better habitat than unstable reaches. Geomorphic and habitat assessment scores were highly correlated (r = 0.624, P < 0.006, n = 18). Stable reaches did not support significantly greater macroinvertebrate densities than unstable reaches (t = −0.415, P > 0.689, df = 8). However, the percent of the macroinvertebrate community in the Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera (EPT) taxa was significantly correlated with the overall habitat assessment scores as well as with individual measures of geomorphic condition and habitat quality. While there is a clear need for more work in classifying and quantifying the responses of aquatic and aquatic-dependent biota to various geomorphic states and processes, this study provides solid preliminary evidence that macroinvertebrate communities are affected by the geomorphic condition of the stream reaches they inhabit and that geomorphic assessment approaches can be used as a tool for evaluating ecological integrity.

KEY WORDS

Geomorphic state In-stream habitat Macroinvertebrate communities Stable Unstable Channel adjustment EPT Channel morphology 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 02-CS-11092000-004 between the US Forest Service and the University of Vermont. We thank Steve Roy (USFS) for help in identifying reaches in the White River Basin, and the VTANR and the members of their interagency River Morphology Advisory Committee for their assistance and interest. We also thank Leslie Wood and Matthew DeWolfe for assistance in the field.

References

  1. Allan, J. D., Erickson, D. L., Fay, J. 1997The influence of catchment land use on stream integrity across multiple spatial scalesFreshwater Biology37149161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amoros, C., Bornette, G. 2002Connectivity and biocomplexity in waterbodies of riverine floodplainsFreshwater Biology47471776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Angradi, T. R. 1999Fine sediment and macroinvertebrate assemblages in Appalachian streams: A field experiment with biomonitoring applicationsJournal of the North American Benthological Society184966Google Scholar
  4. Barbour, M. T., Gerritsen, J., Snyder, B. D., Stribling, J. B. 1999Rapid bioassessment protocols for use in streams and wadeable rivers: periphyton, benthic macroinvertebrates and fish2United States Environmental Protection AgencyWashington, DCGoogle Scholar
  5. Botosaneanu, L. 1979Quinze années de recherches sur la zonation des cours d’eau: 1963–1978Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde49109134Google Scholar
  6. Bryce, S. A., Larsen, D. P., Hughes, R. M., Kaufmann, P. R. 1999Assessing relative risks to aquatic ecosystems: A mid-Appalachian case studyJournal of the American Water Resources Association352336Google Scholar
  7. Capen, D. E., L. Osborn, S. MacFaden, and R. Sims. 2000. Mapping Wildlife Habitat in the Lewis Creek Watershed. Unpublished report available from the Rubenstein School of Natural Resources Spatial Analysis Lab, Aiken Building, University of Vermont, Burlington, VermontGoogle Scholar
  8. Church, M. 2002Geomorphic thresholds in riverine landscapesFreshwater Biology47541557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cooper, C. M. 1993Biological effects of agriculturally derived surface water pollutants on aquatic systems—A reviewJournal of Environmental Quality22402408Google Scholar
  10. Croonquist, M. J., Brooks, R. P. 1993Effects of habitat disturbance on bird communities in riparian corridorsJournal of Soil and Water Conservation486570Google Scholar
  11. Detenbeck, N. E., Barterman, A. L., Brady, V. J., Bragner, J. C., Anarski, V. N., Taylor, D. L., Thompson, J. A., Arthur, J. W. 2000A test of watershed classification systems for ecological risk assessmentEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry1911741181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Detenbeck, N. E., DeFore, P. W., Niemi, G. J., Lima, A. 1992Recovery of temperate stream fish communities from disturbance: a review of case studies and synthesis of theoryEnvironmental Management163353Google Scholar
  13. Dolloff, C. A. 1986Large woody debris: the common denominator for integrated environmental management of forest streamCairns, J.,Jr.Crawford, T. V.Salwasser, H. eds. Implementing integrated environmental management. Center for Environmental Management and Hazardous Materials StudiesVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburg, Virginia93108Google Scholar
  14. Dovciak, A. L., Perry, J. A. 2002In search of effective scales for stream management: Does agroregion, watershed or their intersection best explain the variance in stream macroinvertebrate communities?Environmental Management30365377CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Dynesius, M., Nilsson, C. 1994Fragmentation and flow regulation of river systems in the northern third of the worldScience266753762Google Scholar
  16. Fitzpatrick, F. A., Scudder, B. C., Lenz, B. N., Sullivan, D. J. 2001Effects of multi-scale environmental characteristics on agricultural stream biota in eastern WisconsinJournal of the North American Benthological Association3714891508Google Scholar
  17. Frissell, C. A., Liss, W. J., Warren, C. E., Hurley, M. D. 1986A hierarchical framework for stream habitat classification: Viewing streams in a watershed contextEnvironmental Management10199214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gurnell, A. M., Sweet, R. 1998The distribution of large woody debris accumulations and pools in relation to woodland stream management in a small, low-gradient streamEarth Surface Processes and Landforms2311011121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gurnell, A. M., Piégay, H., Swanson, F. J., Gregory, S. V. 2002Large wood and fluvial processesFreshwater Biology47601619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Harmel, R. D., Dutnell, R. C. 1999Evaluation of Rosgen’s streambank erosion potential assessment in northeast OklahomaJournal of American Water Resources Association35113121Google Scholar
  21. Hession, W. C., Pizzuto, J. E., Johnson, T. E., Horwitz, R. J. 2003aInfluence of bank vegetation on channel morphology in rural and urban watershedsGeology31147150Google Scholar
  22. Hession, W. C., T. E. Johnson, D. F. Charles, R. J. Horwitz, D. A. Kreeger, D. J. Velinsky, J. E. Pizzuto, B. D. Marshall, and J. D. Newbold. 2003b. Ecological benefits of riparian reforestation in urban watersheds. In Symposia Proceedings Protection & Restoration of Urban and Rural Streams, ASCE-EWRI World Water and Environment Congress, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaGoogle Scholar
  23. Hynem, H. B. N. 1960The biology of polluted watersLiverpool University PressCambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  24. Juracek, K. E., Fitzpatrick, F. A. 2003Limitations and implications of stream classificationJournal of the American Water Resources Association39659670Google Scholar
  25. Karr, J. R. 1991Biological integrity: a long neglected aspect of water resource managementEcological Applications16684Google Scholar
  26. Lane, E. W. 1955The importance of fluvial morphology in hydraulic engineeringProceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineering81117Google Scholar
  27. Lane, S. 1995The dynamics of dynamic river channelsGeography80147162Google Scholar
  28. Langendoen, E. J., A. Simon, A. Curini, and C. V. Alonso. 1999. Field validation of an improved process-based model for streambank stability analysis. In V. A. R. Walton and R. E. Nece (eds.). Proceedings of the 1999 International Water Resources Engineering Conference, ASCE, Reston, Virginia (CD-ROM)Google Scholar
  29. Lenat, D. R., Crawford, J. K. 1994Effects of land use on water quality and aquatic biota of three North Carolina Piedmont streamsHydrobiologia294185199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Loch, D. D., West, J. L., Perlmutter, D. G. 1996The effect of trout farm effluent on the taxa richness of benthic macroinvertebratesAquaculture1473755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lotspeich, F. B. 1980Watersheds as the basic ecosystem: this conceptual framework provides a basis for a natural classification systemWater Resources Bulletin16581586Google Scholar
  32. Lotspeich, F. B., Platts, W. S. 1982An integrated land-aquatic classification systemNorth American Journal of Fisheries Management2138149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Malmqvist, B. 2002Aquatic invertebrates in riverine landscapesFreshwater Biology47679694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Maser, C., Sedell, J. R. 1994From the forest to the sea: the ecology of wood in streams, rivers, estuaries, and oceansSt. Lucie PressSt. Lucie, FloridaGoogle Scholar
  35. Merritt, R. W., Cummins, K. W. 1996An introduction to the aquatic insects of North AmericaKendall/Hunt PublishingDubuque, IowaGoogle Scholar
  36. Miller, J. R., Ritter, J. B. 1996An examination of the Rosgen classification of natural riversCatena27295299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Miller, J. R., and P. B. Skidmore. 2001. Natural channel design: How does Rosgen classification-based design compare with other methods? In Proceedings of the ASCE Wetlands Engineering and River Restoration Conference, Chapter 2, Section 27, Reno, NevadaGoogle Scholar
  38. Montgomery, D. R. 1994. What does channel stability mean? Pages 37–41 in Proceedings of the International Workshop on Ecology and Management of Aquatic–Terrestrial Ecotones, Center for Streamside Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  39. Montgomery, D. R., Buffington, J. M. 1997Channel-reach morphology in mountain drainage basinsGeographical Society of America Bulletin109596611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Montgomery, D. R., Buffington, J. M., Smith, R. D., Schmidt, K. M., Pess, G. 1995Pool spacing in forest channelsWater Resources Research3110971105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mundie, J.H., D.E. Mounce, and L.E. Smith. 1973. Observations on the response of zoobenthos to additions of hay, willow leaves, alder leaves and cereal grain to stream substrates. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Technical Report, Number 387Google Scholar
  42. Naiman, R. J., Décamps, H., Pollock, M. 1993The role of riparian corridors in maintaining regional biodiversityEcological Applications3209212Google Scholar
  43. NCCES (North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service). 1999. River course: application of the Rosgen stream classification system to North Carolina. Fact Sheet Number 2 (8/99-5M-KMG/KEL, AG-590-2, E99 39105), pp. 1–8Google Scholar
  44. Nelson, E. J., Booth, D. B. 2002Sediment sources in urbanizing, mixed land-use watershedsJournal of Hydrology2645168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Patrick, R. 1949A proposed biological measure of stream conditionsVerhandlugen der Internationalen Vereinigung fur Theoretische und Angewandete Limnologie11299307Google Scholar
  46. Pfankuch, D. 1975. Stream reach inventory and channel stability evaluation. USDA Forest Service, R1-75-002. Government Printing Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  47. Plafkin, J. L., Barbour, M. T., Porter, K. D., Gross, S. K., Hughes, R. M. 1989Rapid bioassessment protocols for use in stream and rivers: Benthic macroinvertebrates and fishUS Environmental Protection AgencyWashington, DCGoogle Scholar
  48. Poff, N. L., Allen, J. D. 1995Functional organization of stream fish assemblages in relation to hydrologic variabilityEcology76606627Google Scholar
  49. Poff, N. L., Ward, J. V. 1990Physical habitat template of lotic systems: Recovery in the context of historical pattern of spatiotemporal heterogeneityEnvironmental Management14629645Google Scholar
  50. Popotnik, G. J., Guiliano, W. M. 2000Response of birds to grazing of riparian zonesJournal of Wildlife Management64976982Google Scholar
  51. Prajapati, M. C., Lavania, G. S. 1998Evaluation of river bank stability under forest, agriculture, and grazing land usesInternational Journal of Ecology and Environmental Sciences247380Google Scholar
  52. Resh, V. H., Meyers, M. J., Hannaford, M. J. 1996Macroinvertebrates as indicators of environmental qualityHauer, F. R.Lamberti, G. A. eds. Methods in stream ecologyAcademic PressSan Diego, California647698Google Scholar
  53. Richards, C., Haro, R. J., Johnson, L. B., Host, G. E. 1997Catchment and reach-scale properties as indicators of macroinvertebrate species traitsFreshwater Biology37219230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Rosgen, D. L. 1994A classification of natural riversCatena22169199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rosgen, D. L. 1996Applied river morphology. Wildland Hydrology BooksPagosa SpringsColoradoGoogle Scholar
  56. Rosgen, D. L. 1998. The reference reach: A blueprint for natural channel design. In Proceedings of the ASCE Wetlands Engineering and River Restoration Conference. ASCE, Reston, VirginiaGoogle Scholar
  57. Roth, N. E., Allan, J. D., Erickson, D. L. 1996Landscape influences on stream biotic integrity assessed at multiple spatial scalesLandscape Ecology11141156Google Scholar
  58. Savery, T. S., Belt, G. H., Higgins, D. A. 2001Evaluation of the Rosgen stream classification system in Chequamegon–Nicolet National Forest, WisconsinJournal of the American Water Resources Association37641654Google Scholar
  59. Schumm S. A. 1963. A tentative classification of alluvial river channels. USGS (United States Geological Survey) Circular 477, p. 10Google Scholar
  60. Schumm, S. A. 1977The Fluvial SystemJohn Wiley & SonsNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  61. Schumm, S. A., Harvey, M. D., Watson, C. 1984Incised channels: Morphology, dynamics and controlWater Resources PublicationsLittleton, ColoradoGoogle Scholar
  62. Simon, A., Massimo, R. 2000Channel instability and the loss of area in the Midwestern United StatesJournal of the American Water Resources Association36133150Google Scholar
  63. Sweeney, B. W. 1992Streamside forests and the physical, chemical, and trophic characteristics of Piedmont stream in eastern North AmericaWater Science Technology2626532673Google Scholar
  64. Timm, H., Ivask, M., Moels, T. 2001Response of macroinvertebrates and water quality to long-term decrease in organic pollution in some Estonian streams during 1990–1998Hydrobiologia464153164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. VTDEC (Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation). 2001a. Stream geomorphic assessment handbook: rapid stream assessment—Phase 2 field protocols. Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Water Quality Division, Waterbury, VermontGoogle Scholar
  66. VTDEC (Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation). 2001b. Stream geomorphic assessment of Lewis Creek 2001. Draft Report, November 9, 2001. Available from VTANR (Vermont Agency of Natural Resources), Water Quality Division, Waterbury, VermontGoogle Scholar
  67. VTDEC (Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation). 2002. White River basin plan: a water quality management plan. Final Report. Available from VTANR (Vermont Agency of Natural Resources), Water Quality Division, Waterbury, VermontGoogle Scholar
  68. Ward, J. V. 1989The four-dimensional nature of lotic ecosystemsJournal of the North American Benthological Society828Google Scholar
  69. Ward, T. A., Tate, K. W., Atwill, E. R., Lile, D. F., Lancaster, D. L., McDougald, N., Barry, S., Ingram, R. S., George, H. A., Jensen, W., Frost, W. E., Phillips, R., Markegard, G., Larson, S. 2003A comparison of three visual assessments for riparian and stream healthJournal of Soil and Water Conservation588389Google Scholar
  70. Watzin, M. C., McIntosh, A. W. 1999Aquatic ecosystems in agricultural landscapes: A review of ecological indicators and achievable ecological outcomesJournal of Soil and Water Conservation54636644Google Scholar
  71. Whiting, P. J., Bradley, J. B. 1993A process-based classification system for headwater streamsEarth Surface Processes and Landforms18603612Google Scholar
  72. Wiley, M. J., Kohler, S. L., Seelbach, P. W. 1997Reconciling landscape and local views of aquatic communities: lessons from Michigan trout streamsFreshwater Biology37133148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wolman, M. G. 1954A method of sampling coarse river-bed materialTransactions of the American Geophysical Union35951956Google Scholar
  74. Wright, K., Li, J. L. 2002From continua to patches: examining stream community structure over large environmental gradientsCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science5914041417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Zar, J. H. 1984Biostatistical analysisPrentice-HallEnglewood. Cliffs, New JerseyGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Mažeika
    • 1
  • P. Sullivan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mary C. Watzin
    • 1
  • W. Cully Hession
    • 2
  1. 1.University of VermontRubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, Rubenstein Ecosystem Science LaboratoryBurlingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations