Environmental Management

, Volume 51, Issue 6, pp 1274–1283 | Cite as

Classifying the Health of Connecticut Streams Using Benthic Macroinvertebrates with Implications for Water Management

  • Christopher J. BellucciEmail author
  • Mary E. Becker
  • Mike Beauchene
  • Lee Dunbar


Bioassessments have formed the foundation of many water quality monitoring programs throughout the United States. Like many state water quality programs, Connecticut has developed a relational database containing information about species richness, species composition, relative abundance, and feeding relationships among macroinvertebrates present in stream and river systems. Geographic Information Systems can provide estimates of landscape condition and watershed characteristics and when combined with measurements of stream biology, provide a useful visual display of information that is useful in a management context. The objective of our study was to estimate the stream health for all wadeable stream kilometers in Connecticut using a combination of macroinvertebrate metrics and landscape variables. We developed and evaluated models using an information theoretic approach to predict stream health as measured by macroinvertebrate multimetric index (MMI) and identified the best fitting model as a three variable model, including percent impervious land cover, a wetlands metric, and catchment slope that best fit the MMI scores (adj-R 2 = 0.56, SE = 11.73). We then provide examples of how modeling can augment existing programs to support water management policies under the Federal Clean Water Act such as stream assessments and anti-degradation.


Best fitting model Landscape variables Macroinvertebrate multimetric index Stream health Water management policy 



We thank Brian Jennes, Guy Hoffman, Al Iacobucci, Al Ladotski, Tracy Lizotte, and Ernie Pizzuto for their assistance with collecting and processing macroinvertebrate samples. Brian Jennes did the majority of macroinvertebrate subsampling and we are thankful for his hard work and attention to detail. Jillian Baker provided assistance with the graphics. We thank John Van Sickle and two anonymous reviewers for their critical review of earlier drafts. Their comments greatly improved the clarity of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher J. Bellucci
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mary E. Becker
    • 1
  • Mike Beauchene
    • 1
  • Lee Dunbar
    • 1
  1. 1.Connecticut Department of Environmental ProtectionHartfordUSA

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