Skip to main content

Montane meadows in the Sierra Nevada: comparing terrestrial and aquatic assessment methods

Abstract

We surveyed montane meadows in the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades for two field seasons to compare commonly used aquatic and terrestrial-based assessments of meadow condition. We surveyed (1) fish, (2) reptiles, (3) amphibians, (4) aquatic macroinvertebrates, (5) stream geomorphology, (6) physical habitat, and (7) terrestrial vegetation in 79 meadows between the elevations of 1,000 and 3,000 m. From the results of those surveys, we calculated five multi-metric indices based on methods commonly used by researchers and land management agencies. The five indices consisted of (1) fish only, (2) native fish and amphibians, (3) macroinvertebrates, (4) physical habitat, and (5) vegetation. We compared the results of the five indices and found that there were significant differences in the outcomes of the five indices. We found positive correlations between the vegetation index and the physical habitat index, the invertebrate index and the physical habitat index, and the two fish-based indices, but there were significant differences between indices in both range and means. We concluded that the five indices provided very different interpretations of the condition in a given meadow. While our assessment of meadow condition changed based on which index was used, each provided an assessment of different components important to the overall condition of a meadow system. Utilizing a multimetric approach that accounts for both terrestrial and aquatic habitats provides the best means to accurately assess meadow condition, particularly given the disproportionate importance of these systems in the Sierra Nevada landscape.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

References

  • Allen, B. (1989). Ten years of change in Sierran stringer meadows: an evaluation of range condition models. USDA Forest Service Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-110

  • Allen-Diaz, B. (1991). Water-table and plant species relationships in Sierra Nevada Meadows. American Midland Naturalist, 126, 30–43.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Allen-Diaz, B., Barrett, R., Frost, W., Huntsinger, L., & Tate, K. (1999). Sierra Nevada ecosystems in the presence of livestock. A report to the Pacific Southwest Station and Region 5 USDA Forest Service.

  • Angradi, T. R. (1999). Fine sediment and macroinvertebrate assemblages in Appalachian streams: A field experiment with bio- monitoring applications. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 18, 49–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Auble, G. T., Doff, D. A., & Scott, M. L. (1994). Relating riparian vegetation to present and future streamflow. Ecological Applications, 4, 544–554.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barbour, M. T., Plafkin, J. L., Bradley, B. P., Graves, C. G., & Wisseman, R. W. (1992). Evaluation of EPA's rapid bioassessment benthic metrics: Metric redundancy and variability among reference stream sites. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 11, 437–449.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barbour, M. T., Gerritsen, J., Snyder, B. D., & Stribling, J. B. (1999). Rapid bioassessment protocols for use in streams and wadeable rivers: Periphyton, benthic macroinvertebrates and fish. EPA 841-B-99-002, US Environmental Agency, Office of Water, Washington, DC, USA.

  • Belsky, A. J., Matzke, A., & Uselman, S. (1999). Survey of livestock influences on stream and riparian ecosystems in the western United States. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation., 54, 419–431.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blank, R., Svejcar, A., & Riegel, G. (2006). Soil attributes in a Sierra Nevada riparian meadow as influenced by grazing. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 59(3), 321–329.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Briske, D. D., Bestelmeyer, B. T., Stringham, T. K., & Shaver, P. L. (2008). Recommendation for development of resilience-based state-and transition models. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 61, 359–367.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Castelli, R. M., Chambers, J. C., & Tausch, R. J. (2000). Soil–plant relations along a soil–water gradient in Great Basin riparian meadows. Wetlands, 20, 251–266.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chambers, J. C., Tausch, R. J., Korfmacher, J. L., Miller, J. R., & Jewett, D. G. (2004). Effects of geomorphic processes and hydrologic regimes on riparian vegetation. In J. C. Chambers & J. R. Miller (Eds.), Great basin riparian ecosystems—Ecology, management and restoration (pp. 196–231). Covelo: Island Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coles-Ritchie, M. C., Henderson, R. C., Archer, E. K., Kennedy, C., & Kershner, J. L. (2004). Repeatability of riparian vegetation sampling methods: how useful are these techniques for broad-scale, long-term monitoring? Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRSGTR-138. Fort Collins: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p 18.

  • Cornwell, K., & Brown, K. (2008). Physical and hydrological characterization of Clark’s Meadow. Report to the Natural Heritage Institute.

  • Crump, M. A., & Scott, N. J. (1994). Visual encounter surveys. In W. H. Heyer, M. A. Donnelly, R. W. McDiarmid, L. C. Hayek, & M. S. Foster (Eds.), Measuring and monitoring biological diversity: standard methods for amphibians (pp. 84–92). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.

  • Darrouzet-Nardi, A., D’Antonio, C. M., & Dawson, T. E. (2006). Depth of water acquisition by invading shrubs and resident herbs in a Sierra Nevada meadow. Plant and Soil, 285, 31–43.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Davidson, C. R., Schaffer, H. B., & Jennings, M. R. (2002). Spatial tests of the pesticide drift, habitat destruction, UV-B, and climate-change hypotheses for California amphibian declines. Conservation Biology, 16(6), 1588–1601.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • DeSante, D. F. (1995). The status, distribution, abundance, population trends, demographics, and risks of the landbird avifauna of the Sierra Nevada. Point Reyes Station: The Institute for Bird Populations.

  • Dull, R. A. (1999). Palynological evidence for 19th century grazing-induced vegetation change in the Southern Sierra Nevada, California, USA. Journal of Biogeography, 26, 899–912.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dwire, K. A., Kauffman, J. B., & Baham, J. E. (2006). Plant species distribution in relation to water-table depth and soil redox potential in montane riparian meadows. Wetlands, 26(1), 131–146.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eby, L. A., Roach, W. J., Crowder, L. B., & Stanford, J. A. (2006). Effects of stocking-up freshwater food webs. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 21(10), 576–584.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Garcia-Criado, F., & Fernandez-Alaez, M. (2001). Hydraenidae and Elmidae assemblages (Coleoptera) from a Spanish river basin: good indicators of coal mining pollution? Archiv für Hydrobiologie, 150, 641–660.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Grinnell, J., & Storer, T. I. (1924). Animal life in the Yosemite; an account of the mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians in a cross-section of the Sierra Nevada. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gross, T., Rudolf, L., Levin, S., & Dieckmann, U. (2009). Generalized models reveal stabilizing factors in food webs. Science, 325(5941), 747–750.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Gucinski, H., Furniss, M. J., Ziemer, R. R., & Brookes, M. H. (2001). Forest roads: a synthesis of scientific information. Pacific Northwest Research Station, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-509.

  • Hammersmark, C. T., Rains, M. C., & Mount, J. F. (2008). Quantifying the hydrological effects of stream restoration in a montane meadow, Northern California, USA. River Research Applications, 24, 735–753.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harrington, J., & Born, M. (2000). Measuring the health of California streams and rivers. Sacramento: Sustainable Land Stewardship International Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hilsenhoff, W. L. (1988). Rapid field assessment of organic pollution with a family-level biotic index. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 7, 65–68.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jackson, H. M., Gibbens, C. M., & Soulsby, C. (2007). Role of discharge and temperature variation in determining invertebrate community structure in a regulated river. River Research and Applications, 26(6), 651–669.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Karr, J. R. (1981). Assessment of Biotic Integrity using fish communities. Fisheries, 6, 21–27.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Karr, J. R. (2005). Indicators: It matters what we measure. Chapter 18, Meeting conservation challenges, Essay 18.2. In M. J. Groom, G. K. Meffe, & C. R. Carroll (Eds.), Principles of conservation biology (3rd ed., pp. 669–671). Sunderland: Sinauer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Karr, J. R. (2006). Seven foundations of biological monitoring and assessment. Biology Ambient, 20, 7–18.

    Google Scholar 

  • Karr, J. R., & Chu, E. W. (1997). Biological monitoring and assessment: using multimetric indexes effectively. EPA 235-R97-001. US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USA.

  • Karr, J. R., Fausch, K. D., Angermeier, P. L., Yant, P. R. & Schlosser, I. J. (1986). Addressing biological integrity in running waters: A method and its rationale. Special Publication 5. Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, Illinois.

  • Kattelmann, R. & Embury, M. (1996). Riparian areas and wetlands. Sierra Nevada ecosystem project: Final report to Congress, Vol. III. Assessments and scientific basis for management options. University of California, Davis, Centers for Water and Wildland Resources.

  • Kinney, B. (1996). Conditions of rangelands before 1905. In: Sierra Nevada ecosystem project: Final report to Congress, Vol. II, Chapter 3. Davis: University of California, Centers for Water and Wildland Resources.

  • Knapp, R. A. (2005). Effects of nonnative fish and habitat characteristics on lentic herpetofauna in Yosemite National Park, USA. Biological Conservation, 121, 265–279.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Knapp, R. A., & Matthews, K. R. (1996). Livestock grazing, golden trout, and streams in the Golden Trout Wilderness, California: Impacts and management implications. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 16, 805–820.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Knapp, R. A., & Matthews, K. R. (2000). Non-native fish introductions and the decline of the mountain yellow-legged frog from within protected areas. Conservation Biology, 14, 428–438.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kondolf, G. M., Kattelman, R., Embury, M., & Erman, D. C. (1996). Status of riparian habitat. In: Sierra Nevada ecosystems project: Final report to Congress, Vol. II. Assessment and scientific basis for management options. Davis: University of California, Centers for Water and Wildland Resources, 1009-1030.

  • Lammert, M., & Allan, J. D. (1999). Environmental auditing: Assessing biotic integrity of streams: Effects of scale in measuring the influence of land use/cover and habitat structure on fish and macroinvertebrates. Environmental Management, 23(2), 257–270.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leege, T. A., Herman, D. J., & Zamora, B. (1981). Effects of cattle grazing on mountain meadows in Idaho. Journal of Range Management, 34, 324–328.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Letcher, B. H., Nislow, K. H., Coombs, J. A., O’Donnell, M. J., & Dubreuil, T. L. (2007). Population response to habitat fragmentation in a stream-dwelling brook trout population. PLoS One, 2(11), 1139.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Loheide, S. P., Deitchman, R. S., Cooper, D. J., Wolf, E. C., Hammersmark, C. T., & Lundquist, J. D. (2009). A framework for understanding the hydroecology of impacted wet meadows in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Ranges, California, USA. Hydrogeology Journal, 17, 229–246.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Manning, M. E., Swanson, S. R., Svejcar, T., & Trent, J. (1989). Rooting characteristics of four intermountain meadow community types. Journal of Range Management, 42, 309–312.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Micheli, E. R., & Kirchner, J. W. (2002). Effects of wet meadow riparian vegetation on streambank erosion. Remote sensing measurements of streambank migration and erodibility. Surface Processes and Landforms, 27(6), 627–639.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mitsch, W. J., & Gosselink, J. G. (2000). Wetlands (3rd ed.). New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moyle, P. B. (2002). Inland fishes of California (p. 502). Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moyle, P. B., & Marchetti, M. P. (1999). Applications of indices of biotic integrity to California streams and watersheds. In T. P. Simon & R. Hughes (Eds.), Assesssing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities (pp. 367–380). Boca Raton: CRC.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ode, P. R., Rehn, A. C., & May, J. T. (2005). A quantitative tool for assessing the integrity of southern coastal California streams. Environmental Management, 35, 493–504.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pellant, M., Shaver, P., Pyke, D. A., & Herrick, J. E. (2005). Interpreting indicators of rangeland health, version 4 (p. 122). Technical Reference 1734-6. US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, National Science and Technology Center, Denver, CO, USA. BLM/WO/ST-00/001+1734/REV05.

  • Popp, A., Blaum, N., & Jeltsch, F. (2009). Ecohydrological feedback mechanisms in arid rangelands: Simulating the impacts of topography and land use. Basic and Applied Ecology, 10, 319–329.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Potter, K. W. (1994). Estimating potential reduction flood benefits of restored wetlands. Water Resource Update, 97, 34–38.

    Google Scholar 

  • Povirk, K . L., Welker, J. M., & Vance, G. E. (2001). Carbon sequestration in Arctic and Alpine Tundra and mountain meadow ecosystems. In Follett, R. F., Kimble, J. M., & R. Lal, (Eds.) , The potential of U.S. grazing lands to sequester carbon and mitigate the greenhouse effect. (p. 442). Boca Raton: CRC.

  • Prichard, D., Barrett, H., Cagney, J., Clark, R., Fogg, J., Gebhardt, K., et al. (1993). Riparian area management: process for assessing proper functioning condition. TR 1737-9 (p. 60). Bureau of Land Management, BLM/SC/ST-93/003+1737, Service Center, CO.

  • Prichard, D., Bridges, C., Leonard, S., Krapf, R., & Hagenbuck, W. (1994). Riparian area management: process for assessing proper functioning condition for lentic riparian-wetland areas. TR 1737-11 (p. 46). Bureau of Land Management, BLM/SC/ST-94/008+1737, Service Center, CO.

  • Prichard, D., Clemmer, P., Gorges, M., Meyer, G., & Shumac, K. (1996). Riparian area management: using aerial photographs to assess proper functioning condition of riparian-wetland areas. TR 1737-12 (p. 52). Bureau of Land Management, BLM/RS/ST-96/007+1737, National Applied Resource Sciences Center, CO.

  • Ratliff, R. D. (1985). Meadows in the Sierra Nevada of California: State of knowledge. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-84 (p. 52). Berkeley: Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture.

  • Ratliff, R. (1993). Sierra Nevada meadows: Species alpha diversity. Res. Note. PSW-RN-41S (p. 5). Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture.

  • Resh, V. H., Norris, R. H., & Barbour, M. T. (1995). Design and implementation of rapid assessment approaches for water resource monitoring using benthic macroinvertebrates. Australian Journal of Ecology, 20, 108–121.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sanders, S. D., & Flett, M. A. (1989). Montane riparian habitat and willow flycatchers: threats to a sensitive environment and species USDA Forest Service Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-110.

  • Sarr, D. (2002). riparian livestock exclosure research in the Western United States: A critique and some recommendations. Environmental Management, 30(4), 516–526.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schilling, E. G., Loftin, C. S., & Huryn, A. D. (2009). Effects of introduced fish on macroinvertebrate communities in historically fishless headwater and kettle lakes. Biological Conservation, 142, 3030–3038.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schlesinger, W. H., Reynolds, J. F., Cunningham, G. L., Huenneke, L. F., Jarrell, W. M., & Virginia, R. A. (1990). Biological feedbacks in global desertification. Science, 247, 1043–1048.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Stoffels, R. J., Clarke, K. R., & Closs, G. P. (2005). Spatial scale and benthic community organisation in the littoral zones of large oligotrophic lakes: potential for cross-scale interactions. Freshwater Biology, 50, 1131–1145.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Surdick, R. & Gaufin, A. (1978). Environmental Requirements and Pollution Tolerance of Plecoptera. EPA-600/4-78-062. Environmental Monitoring and Support Laboratory. Washington: US EPA.

  • Torell, L. A., Fowler, J. M., Kincaid, M. E., & Hawkes, J. M. (1996). The importance of public lands to livestock production in the U.S. Range Improvement Task Force Report no. 32. Las Cruces: New Mexico State University. Available online: http://cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_ritf/report32.pdf. Accessed May 5, 2009.

  • USDA Forest Service (1993). Rangeland management: Profile of the forest service’s grazing allotments and permittees. Fact Sheet for the Chairman, Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Subcommittee, Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives. GAO-RCED-93-141FS.

  • USDI Bureau of Land Management (2007). New Mexico State Office (USDI–BLM–NMSO). (October 5, 2007). BLM restores over 250,000 acres of public lands in New Mexico in 2007. http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/info/newsroom/2007/10/NR_1007_02.html Accessed April 17, 2009.

  • Weixelman, D. A., Zamudio, D. C., Zamudio, K. A., & Tausch, R. J. (1997). Classifying ecological types and evaluating site degradation. Journal of Range Management, 50(3), 315–321.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weixelman, D., Bakker, G., & Fites, J. (2003). USFS Region 5 Range Monitoring Project 2003 Report (p. 45). Adaptive Management Services, US Forest Service, Nevada City, CA.

  • Wemple, B. C., Jones, J. A., & Grant, G. E. (1996). Channel network extension by logging roads in two basins, western Cascades, Oregon. Water Resources Bulletin, 32, 1195–1207.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Winward, A. H. (2000). Monitoring the vegetation resources in riparian areas. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRSGTR-47 (p. 49). Ogden: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station.

  • Woltemade, C. J. (2000). Ability of restored wetlands to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in agricultural drainage water. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 55, 303–309.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zimmer, D. W., & Bachmann, R. W. (1978). Channelization and invertebrate drift in some Iowa streams. Water Resources Bulletin, 14(4), 868–883.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We would like to acknowledge our funders at the California Department of Water Resources. We would also like to thank the Natural Heritage Institute and their staff, as well as the staff of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. We are indebted to the UC Cooperative Extension staff (David Lile, Don Lancaster, and Missy Merrill-Davies) in Plumas, Lassen, and Modoc Counties for their help both in collecting data and coordinating site visits with local landowners, who were exceedingly gracious in allowing us access for this study. We thank the members of our meadow survey crews, Dan Wilson, Maxfield Fish, Crissy Buss, Brett Baker, Gerard Carmona-Catot, and Erik King as well as Patrick Crain who both held down the fort in Davis and was always a resource for information and technical help.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sarah E. Purdy.

Appendix 1

Appendix 1

Rapid Habitat Assessment Data Sheet (2006) Condition category
Habitat parameter Optimal Suboptimal Marginal Poor
1. Epifaunal substrate/available cover Greater than 50% of substrate favorable for epifaunal colonization and fish cover; mix of snags, submerged logs, undercut banks, cobble or other such habitat and at the stage to allow full colonization potential (i.e., logs/snags that are not new fall and not transient). 40–70% mix of stable habitat; well-suited for full colonization potential; adequate habitat for maintenance of populations; presence of additional substrate in the form of newfall, but not yet prepared for colonization (may rate at high end of scale) 20–40% mix of stable habitat; habitat availability less than desirable; substrate frequently disturbed or removed Less than 20% stable habitat; lack of habitat is obvious; substrate unstable or lacking
Score: 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
2. Pool substrate characterization Mixture of substrate materials, with gravel and firm sand prevalent; root mats and submerged vegetation common Mixture of soft sand, mud, or clay; mud may be dominant; some root mats and submerged vegetation present All mud or clay on sand bottom; little or no root mat; no submerged vegetation Hard-pan clay or bedrock; no root mats or vegetation
Score: 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
3. Velocity/depth regime All four velocity to depth regimes are present (slow-deep, slow shallow, fast-deep, fast shallow). Slow is <0.3 m/s, deep is >0.5 m Only 3 of the 4 velocity to depth regimes are present. If fast-shallow is missing, then score lower than if missing any of the other regimes Only 2 of the 4 habitat regimes are present (if fast-shallow or slow-shallow are missing, score low) Dominated by 1 velocity/depth regime, usually slow-deep
  20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
4. Sediment deposition/embeddedness Little or no enlargement of islands or point bars and <20% of the bottom affected by sediment deposition. Gravel, cobble and boulder particles are 0–25% surrounded by fine sediment. Layering of cobble provides diversity of niche space Some new increase in bar formation, mostly from gravel, sand or fine sediment; 20–50% of the bottom affected; slight deposition in pools. Gravel, cobble and boulder particles are 25–50% surrounded by fine sediment Moderate deposition of new gravel, sand or fine sediment on old and new bars; 50-80% of the bottom affected; sediment deposits at obstructions, constrictions and bends; moderate deposition of pools prevalent. Gravel, cobble, and boulder particles are 50–75% surrounded by fine sediment Heavy deposits of fine maternal, increased bar development; more than 80% of the bottom changing frequently; pools almost absent due to substantial sediment deposition. Gravel, cobble, and boulder particles are more than 75% surrounded by fine sediment
Score: 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
5. Channel flow status Water reaches base of both lower banks, and minimal amount of channel substrate is exposed Water fills >75% of the available channel; or <25% of the channel substrate is exposed Water fills 25-75% of the available channel, and/or riffle substrates are mostly exposed Very little water in channel and mostly present as standing pools
Score: 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
6. Channel alteration/channel condition/ access to floodplain Channelization or incision absent or minimal; stream with normal pattern. Natural channel, no evidence of downcutting; flooding every 1.5 to 2 years--not incised Evidence of past channelization or downcutting, but with significant recovery, no recent channelization present. Adequate access to the floodplain, flooding every 3–5 years—limited incision Channelization/downcutting extensive; or embankments and/or shoring structures present on both banks (i.e. riprap). Floodplain access restricted, flooding every 6–10 years—deeply incised Banks shored with gabion or cement; over 80% of the stream reach channelized and disrupted. Instream habitat greatly altered or removed entirely. Channel actively downcutting or widening; floodplain access prevented
Score: 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
7. Frequency of riffles or bends Occurrence of riffles/bends relatively frequent; ratio of distance between riffles/ bends divided by width of the stream <7:1 (generally 5–7); variety of habitat is key. In streams where riffles are continuous, placement of other large natural obstruction is important. Occurrence of riffles/bends infrequent; distance between riffles/bends divided by the width of the stream is between 7 and 15 Occasional riffle/bend; bottom contours provide some habitat; distance between riffles/bends divided by the width of the stream is between 15 and 25 Generally all flat water or shallow riffles; poor habitat; distance between riffles/bends divided by the width of the stream is a ratio of >25
Score: 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
8. Bank stability (score each bank) Banks stable; evidence of erosion or bank failure absent or minimal; little potential for future problems. <5% of bank affected Moderately stable; infrequent, small areas of erosion mostly healed over. 5–30% of bank in reach has areas of erosion Moderately unstable; 30–60% of bank in reach has areas of erosion; high erosion potential during floods Unstable; many eroded areas; “raw” areas frequent along straight sections and bends; obvious bank sloughing; 60–100% of bank has erosional scars
Score: Left bank: 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Score: Right bank:10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
9. Vegetative protection (score each bank) More than 90% of the streambank surfaces and immediate riparian zone covered by native vegetation, including trees, understory shrubs, or nonwoody macrophytes; vegetative disruption through grazing or mowing minimal or not evident; almost all plants allowed to grow naturally 70-90% of the streambank surfaces covered by native vegetation, but one class of plants is not well-represented; disruption evident but not affecting full plant growth potential to any great extent; more than one-half of the potential plant stubble height remaining 50–70% of the streambank surfaces covered by vegetation; disruption obvious; patches of bare soil or closely cropped vegetation common; less than one half of the potential plant stubble height remaining Less than 50% of the streambank surfaces covered by vegetation; disruption of streambank vegetation is very high; vegetation has been removed to 5 cm or less in average stubble height
Score: Left bank: 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Score: Right bank: 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
10. Riparian vegetative zone width (score each bank riparian zone) Width of riparian zone >18 m; human activities (i.e., parking lots, roadbeds, clearcuts, lawns, grazing, or crops, etc.) have not impacted zone. Width of riparian zone 12–18 m; human activities have impacted zone only minimally Width of riparian zone 6–12 m; human activities have impacted zone a great deal Width of riparian zone <6 m; little or no riparian vegetation due to human activities
Score: Left bank: 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Score: Right bank: 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Purdy, S.E., Moyle, P.B. & Tate, K.W. Montane meadows in the Sierra Nevada: comparing terrestrial and aquatic assessment methods. Environ Monit Assess 184, 6967–6986 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-011-2473-0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-011-2473-0

Keywords

  • Meadows
  • Wetlands
  • Rapid habitat assessment
  • Fish
  • Invertebrates
  • Vegetation
  • Stream channel condition