2005 Progress Report: Development and Evaluation of Aquatic Indicators

EPA Grant Number: R829095C003
Subproject: this is subproject number 003 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R829095
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Space-Time Aquatic Resources Modeling and Analysis Program (STARMAP)
Center Director: Urquhart, N. Scott
Title: Development and Evaluation of Aquatic Indicators
Investigators: Theobald, David M. , Ritter, Kerry J. , Urquhart, N. Scott
Current Investigators: Theobald, David M. , Urquhart, N. Scott
Institution: Colorado State University , Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Authority
Current Institution: Colorado State University
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2006
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 2004 through September 30, 2005
RFA: Research Program on Statistical Survey Design and Analysis for Aquatic Resources (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Aquatic Ecosystems , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Water and Watersheds , Water , Ecosystems


The objectives of this research project are to: (1) develop, implement, and disseminate tools for accomplishing tessellation stratified sampling in a Geographic Information System (GIS) context; (2) develop, determine, and evaluate landscape indicators suitable for spatial and temporal analyses of Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) and similar data being examined in Subprojects R829095C001 and R829095C002; (3) evaluate protocols for economically determining site-level aggregate indicators, including habitat features, macroinvertebrate assemblages, and chemical determinations; and (4) investigate the limitations of using current data, which are widely available but probably ill-suited for regional statistical analyses.

Progress Summary:

The Space-Time Aquatic Resources Modeling and Analysis Program landscape ecology/GIS efforts have focused on conceptualizing, developing, extending, and implementing GIS tools that will support spatial analyses of aquatic responses whose variation is predictable, at least partly, from the landscape characteristics above the point in the aquatic system where field collections occurred. An automated, robust framework that delineates the watershed above any point (e.g., a sample collection point) is needed to allow relevant, process-based computation of landscaped metrics. The team led by Theobald has developed such a framework, which provides an additional benefit of being flexible to alternative definitions (and weightings) of watershed features utilizing upstream (and downstream) distances.

A set of tools (FLoWS and FunConn) has been designed around this framework that utilizes ArcGIS as a platform, extending statistically relevant tools into the GIS community. Theobald has made substantial progress on these tools and has collaborated with several statistics students in this area. Theobald’s GIS developments have been critical for landscape analyses done by Erin Peterson in comparing the results from various spatial statistical models using data from the Maryland Biological Stream Survey. The FloWS software is available at a Web site listed at the end of this report. The relevance of this software is evidenced by its use during its development by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Designs and Models for Aquatic Resource Surveys (Stevens, Dalthorpe, Smith), the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and a variety of graduate students at Colorado State University. The general sampling methodology advocated by EMAP can be made available to some potential users much more appropriately in a GIS context than in a statistical computation context. Thus, a probability-based sampling tool (Reversed Randomized Quadrant Recursive Raster, known as RRQRR, which possesses most features of the Generated Random Tessellation Stratified Algorithm) has been implemented and used to develop sampling networks for a number of projects. The recent collaboration of Theobald with personnel of Environmental Systems Research Institute has shown great promise as an output for this work.

The major focus of the project is to build better links between watershed parameters and reaches. Tools for accomplishing tessellation-stratified sampling in ArcGIS have been developed and are in final/QA testing stages. We continued to compile data for the Mid-Atlantic Highlands Assessment Program study area but now will focus on building the base data for the Western Pilot study area. We continued to develop basic network modeling tools in GIS. We collaborated with other Science To Achieve Results researchers, especially ones at Colorado State University. Other work on this project continues.

Erin Peterson completed her doctoral degree in earth resources and has accepted a postdoctoral position in aquatic monitoring in Queensland, Australia. She has submitted three manuscripts from her work; one has been accepted.

Future Activities:

We anticipate extending the FLoWS framework to include classification of geomorphic reach types using stream gradient, valley width, channel type, topographic constraints, and so forth. This would enable us to use understanding of geomorphological processes to better develop predictors of perennial/intermittent, particularly in the face of climate change scenarios. We want to integrate FLoWS tools with U.S. Geological Survey National Hydrography Dataset “Plus,” but its projected available date in 9-12 months means we will have to work with draft forms of this dataset. We anticipate examining the development of survey designs that are spatially balanced or spatially autocorrelated at various scales using the RRQRR methodology.

We will continue to develop landscape metrics based on direct measures of stream discharge to develop a regression relationship between watershed conditions and index of biotic integrity.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 36 publications for this subproject

Supplemental Keywords:

GIS, tessellation stratified sampling, water quality, land cover, land use, accuracy, precision,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Aquatic Ecosystem, Environmental Monitoring, Atmosphere, EMAP, ecosystem monitoring, spatial and temporal modeling, aquatic ecosystems, water quality, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program, modeling ecosystems, STARMAP

Relevant Websites:

http://www.stat.colostate.edu/starmap Exit
http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/projects/starmap/flows_index.htm Exit
http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/projects/starmap/funconn_index.htm Exit
http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/projects/starmap/rrqrr_index.htm Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2002
  • 2003 Progress Report
  • 2004 Progress Report
  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R829095    Space-Time Aquatic Resources Modeling and Analysis Program (STARMAP)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R829095C001 Combining Environmental Data Sets
    R829095C002 Local Inferences from Aquatic Studies
    R829095C003 Development and Evaluation of Aquatic Indicators
    R829095C004 Extension of Expertise on Design and Analysis to States and Tribes
    R829095C005 Integration and Coordination for STARMAP