2003 Progress Report: A Biologically Driven National Classification Scheme for U.S. Streams and Rivers

EPA Grant Number: R829498
Title: A Biologically Driven National Classification Scheme for U.S. Streams and Rivers
Investigators: Herlihy, Alan T. , Hughes, Robert , Pan, Yangdong
Institution: Oregon State University , Portland State University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: February 1, 2002 through January 31, 2005 (Extended to January 31, 2006)
Project Period Covered by this Report: February 1, 2003 through January 31,2004
Project Amount: $747,541
RFA: Development of National Aquatic Ecosystem Classifications and Reference Conditions (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecosystems , Water , Aquatic Ecosystems


Analyzing stream biological assemblage data at a national scale is extremely difficult and rarely attempted due to the problems of compiling the necessary database. Our goal is to assemble a national database for the conterminous 48 U.S. states of stream/river fish, macroinvertebrate and periphyton assemblages derived from regional scale synoptic surveys. Our objectives are to: (1) use our national database to develop 10-30 biologically driven national "classes" of stream systems; (2) within each class, separate natural from anthropogenic effects on stream ecological condition; and (3) establish quantitative relationships between catchment and riparian condition and water body condition (structure and function).

Progress Summary:

Final national working fish and macroinvertebrate databases have been compiled from available Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP), Regional EMAP (REMAP), state agency and USGS National Water Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA) data. The working fish data have 530 different species from 5,951 unique sampling sites. The working macroinvertebrate file has 715 taxa from 3,680 unique sampling sites. Initial multivariate analyses (cluster analysis and ordination) have been performed on both national datasets. We are currently investigating the effects of clustering methods, distance measures, rare taxa screening, and site density on the final results. One manuscript on the role of taxonomic resolution on EMAP survey data has been published and two manuscripts (one on California REMAP periphyton data, the other on the effects of macroinvertebrate habitat sample location) are in draft/journal review phase.

Future Activities:

We will finalize the multivariate analyses with the national fish database to identify national clusters driven by biology. Biologically driven national clusters will be compared to existing classifications (e.g., ecoregions, drainage basins, physiographic provinces) to see which ones most closely correspond to the biological clusters. This work will be presented at the summer 2004 national American Fisheries Society (AFS) meeting at a special session entitled "Influences of Landscapes on Stream Habitats and Biological Communities." Papers from this session will be published in an AFS book with the same title. Equivalent effort will be spent on analyzing the macroinvertebrate data.

Journal Articles on this Report : 1 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 44 publications 11 publications in selected types All 4 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Waite IR, Herlihy AT, Larsen DP, Urquhart NS, Klemm DJ. The effects of macroinvertebrate taxonomic resolution in large landscape bioassessments: an example from the Mid-Atlantic Highlands, U.S.A. Freshwater Biology 2004;49(4):474-489. R829498 (2003)
R829498 (Final)
R829095 (Final)
R829095C003 (2004)
  • Abstract: Wiley - Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    Streams, rivers, fish, macroinvertebrates, periphyton, aquatic indicators, stream ecology, EMAP, classification, monitoring, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, Hydrology, Aquatic Ecosystem, Ecology and Ecosystems, anthropogenic stress, bioassessment, streams, classifying reference conditions, anthropogenic impact, rivers, national classification system, aquatic ecosystems, water quality, biological indicators, ecological classification

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2002 Progress Report
  • 2004 Progress Report
  • Final Report