Science Inventory

ECOLOGICAL ENDPOINT MODELING FOR TMDLS: EFFECTS OF SEDIMENT ON FISH POPULATIONS

Citation:

Rashleigh, B. ECOLOGICAL ENDPOINT MODELING FOR TMDLS: EFFECTS OF SEDIMENT ON FISH POPULATIONS. Presented at National Total Maximum Daily Loads Science and Policy Conference, Phoeniz, AZ, November 13-16, 2002.

Impact/Purpose:

This research project sets out to design and conduct an assessment of the long-term ecological consequences of alternative watershed management choices. As the first project to be done at this scale using predictive ecological endpoints, we will seek to identify the appropriate components of such an analysis. We will use experience gained in the conduct of this analysis to identify key research and data needs for future analyses. We will extend this analysis beyond previous and ongoing studies in two ways: by incorporating biological endpoints, primarily properties of fish communities, and by introducing the concept of sustainability of ecological state under future scenarios contrasted with the present state of those same ecological resources. Requirements that are identified during the course of this study will permit the recommendation of specific capabilities that should be incorporated in a general modeling system currently under development to support environmental assessments. Finally, the analysis is intended to be of value for establishing environmental management choices that will be beneficial and those that would be detrimental to the sustainability of ecological resources. Specific objectives are listed below:

1. Develop watershed-based modeling systems to forecast the effectiveness of alternative management plans in meeting sediment-related, nutrient-related, pathogen-related, and toxics-related criteria and standards, and biologically-based criteria and standards; and

2. Develop and maintain a comprehensive technical support capability that directly links environmental TMDL exposure research activities and products for the EPA Office of Water, EPA Regional Offices, and the States to be used for implementation of policy, regulatory development, remediation, and enforcement needs.

Description:

Sediment is one of the primary stressors of concern for Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for streams, and often it is a concern because of its impact on ecological endpoints. A modeling approach relating sediment to stream fish population dynamics is presented. Equations are developed to characterize effects of sediment on survival and reproduction, and these vital rates are incorporated into an age-structured population matrix model. The matrix model can be used to calculate the long-term population growth rate, and to project population dynamics. An example application for a darter species, a species that is likely to be most sensitive to sediment impacts, is presented. This approach can be used in TMDL development: a target sediment level may be set based on the criterion that the long term fish population growth-rate is positive, and a margin of safety can be estimated by including variability in the matrix model. Models that simulate the response of ecological endpoints to sediment can provide additional management approaches for impaired streams.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/PAPER)
Product Published Date: 11/13/2002
Record Last Revised: 06/06/2005
Record ID: 63983

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY

ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH DIVISION

ECOSYSTEMS ASSESSMENT BRANCH