Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 185, Issue 12, pp 10459–10471 | Cite as

Assessing changes in the Presque Isle Bay watershed fish community using a modified index of biotic integrity: before and after the elimination of combined sewer overflows

  • Sean D. Rafferty
  • Jake Lybrook
  • Karla M. Kaczmarek
  • Mark Lethaby
  • Robert Wellington
  • Mark Pyron


An index of biotic integrity and species richness were used to assess changes in the Presque Isle Bay watershed fish community before and after the elimination of combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The fish community was sampled with a backpack electrofisher in 2011 at 12 stream locations on 4 tributaries of Presque Isle Bay, Erie County, Pennsylvania. All sites were previously sampled in 2001. Significant increases in species richness and index of biotic integrity (IBI) scores were observed in 2011 compared to 2001. The significant increases in species richness and IBI scores occurred following the elimination of 10 CSOs to Garrison Run, 7 CSOs to Cascade Creek, and 37 CSOs to Mill Creek. Despite the increased richness and IBI scores, the fish community remains in poor condition, which may be related to the highly urbanized land use of the watershed. Urban land uses comprise 77 % of the Presque Isle Bay watershed, and in both 2011 and 2001, the watershed as a whole did not meet warm-water habitat criteria. It is unlikely that the fish community will continue to recover without addressing urbanization throughout the watershed.


Fish community Index of biotic integrity Species richness Watershed Combined sewer overflow Pennsylvania 



We would like to thank the United States Environmental Protection Agency for providing the funding necessary to undertake this sampling effort (Great Lakes Restoration Initiative). In addition, we would like to thank Lori Boughton (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection), Dr. Robert Light (Penn State Behrend), Dr. Michael Rutter (Penn State Behrend), Mark Kwitowski (City of Erie), and Eric Obert (Regional Science Consortium) for their support and contributions to this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sean D. Rafferty
    • 1
  • Jake Lybrook
    • 1
  • Karla M. Kaczmarek
    • 1
  • Mark Lethaby
    • 2
  • Robert Wellington
    • 2
  • Mark Pyron
    • 3
  1. 1.Pennsylvania Sea GrantThe Pennsylvania State UniversityErieUSA
  2. 2.The Regional Science ConsortiumErieUSA
  3. 3.Aquatic Biology and Fisheries Center, Department of BiologyBall State UniversityMuncieUSA

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