Science Inventory

THE CONCEPT OF REFERENCE CONDITION, REVISITED

Citation:

Stoddard, J., C. Hawkins, AND J. Stevenson. THE CONCEPT OF REFERENCE CONDITION, REVISITED. Society for Freshwater Science, Raleigh, NC, June 04 - 09, 2017.

Impact/Purpose:

Ecological assessments of aquatic ecosystems depend on the ability to compare current conditions against some expectation of how they could be in the absence of significant human disturbance. The concept of a ‘‘reference condition’’ is often used to describe the standard or benchmark against which current condition is compared. This presentation will discuss what we've learned about reference condition in the 10 years since a seminal paper on the subject was published. This work was completed under SSWR 3.01A.

Description:

Ecological assessments of aquatic ecosystems depend on the ability to compare current conditions against some expectation of how they could be in the absence of significant human disturbance. The concept of a ‘‘reference condition’’ is often used to describe the standard or benchmark against which current condition is compared. If assessments are to be conducted consistently, then a common understanding of the definitions and complications of reference condition is necessary. A 2006 paper (Stoddard et al., 2006, Ecological Applications 16:1267-1276) made an early attempt at codifying the reference condition concept; in this presentation we will revisit the points raised in that paper (and others) and examine how our thinking has changed in a little over 10 years.Among the issues to be discussed: (1) the “moving target” created when reference site data are used to set thresholds in large scale assessments; (2) natural vs. human disturbance and their effects on reference site distributions; (3) circularity and the use of biological data to assist in reference site identification; (4) using site-scale (in-stream or in-lake) measurements vs. landscape-level human activity to identify reference conditions.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/SLIDE)
Product Published Date: 06/09/2017
Record Last Revised: 06/21/2017
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 336742

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY

WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION

FRESHWATER ECOLOGY BRANCH