EPA Science Inventory

Non-wadeable river bioassessment: spatial variation of benthic diatom assemblages in Pacific Northwest rivers, USA

Citation:

Pan, Y., R. M. HUGHES, A. T. HERLIHY, AND P. R. KAUFMANN. Non-wadeable river bioassessment: spatial variation of benthic diatom assemblages in Pacific Northwest rivers, USA. HYDROBIOLOGIA. Springer, New York, NY, 684(1):241-260, (2012).

Description:

Current bioassessment efforts are focused on small wadeable streams, at least partly because assessing ecological conditions in non-wadeable large rivers poses many additional challenges. In this study, we sampled 20 sites in each of seven large rivers in the Pacific Northwest, USA, to characterize variation of benthic diatom assemblages among and within rivers relative to environmental conditions. Analysis of similarity (ANOSIM) indicated that diatom assemblages were significantly different among all the seven rivers draining different ecoregions. Longitudinal patterns in diatom assemblages showed river-specific features. Bray–Curtis dissimilarity index values did not increase as a function of spatial distance among the sampled reaches within any river but the Malheur. Standardized Mantel r of association between assemblage similarity and spatial distance among sites ranged from a high of 0.69 (Malheur) to a low of 0.18 (Chehalis). In the Malheur River, % monoraphids, nitrogen-tolerant taxa, and beta-mesosaprobous taxa all decreased longitudinally while %motile taxa, especially Nitzschia, showed an opposite trend, reflecting a strong in-stream water quality gradient. Similar longitudinal trends in water quality were observed in other rivers but benthic diatom assemblages showed either weak response patterns or no patterns. Our study indicated that benthic diatom assemblages can clearly reflect among-river factors. The relationships between benthic diatom assemblages and water quality within each river may depend on the strength of the water quality gradients, interactive effects of water quality and habitat conditions, and diatom sampling design.

Purpose/Objective:

Current bioassessment efforts are focused on small wadeable streams, at least partly because assessing ecological conditions in non-wadeable large rivers poses many additional challenges.

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Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Start Date: 03/01/2012
Completion Date: 03/01/2012
Record Last Revised: 10/29/2012
Record Created: 03/16/2012
Record Released: 03/16/2012
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 241985

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB

WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION

FRESHWATER ECOLOGY BRANCH