Progression of Ecological Degradation in Mid-Atlantic Streams
This project will develop and evaluate techniques to quantify aquatic community response along gradients of increasing stress so that the degree of relative severity of effects can be assessed and the stream reaches that may benefit most from restoration activities can be identified. Specific aquatic attributes that are lost as stress increases will be identified. We expect these results to be useful to the Regional Vulnerability Assessment (ReVA), and the Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment (MAIA) being conducted in the Mid Atlantic and to the Aquatic Life Uses work group in the Office of Water.
This project will document the progression of ecological degradation in aquatic communities in the Mid-Atlantic Region and identify commonalities in the progression for different types of stress and different communities. Data sets have been compiled for the region that represent biological communities of macroinvertebrates, fish, and periphyton across the full range of stress intensities. Metrics that represent community structure have been computed for each data set. These metrics have been analyzed using multivariate statistical techniques to better understand not only how the community structure changes, but also at what points along the stressor gradient these different changes occur. Results from these analyses illustrate differences in the responses of biological metrics along gradients of anthropogenic stress. Changes in community structure have been linked to the tiered classes being developed by the Aquatic Life Uses (ALUS) work group. Analysis of changes in species lists along a gradient of anthropogenic stress will be conducted.
Project Completion Date (Actual/Projected)