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Ecological Realism of U.S. EPA Experimental Stream Facility Studies
Nietch, C., D. Brown, AND Jim Lazorchak. Ecological Realism of U.S. EPA Experimental Stream Facility Studies. Presented at Society for Freshwater Science Annual Meeting, Raleigh, NC, June 04 - 08, 2017.
This presentation discusses the relevance and realism of USEPA's mesocosms studies conducted using the Experimental Stream Facility in Milford, OH within the context of understanding the role meso-scale results can play in validating aquatic life criteria for streams and, more generally, managing our freshwater futures.
The USEPA’s Experimental Stream Facility (ESF) conducts meso-scale ecotoxicology studies that account for both structural and functional responses of whole stream communities to contaminants or other stressors. The 16 mesocosms of ESF are indoors and consist of a tiled run section (0.152 m W x 4.268 m L x 0.105 m D) that widens to a gravel riffle section (0.305 m W x 4.268 m L x 0.19 m D). They are intermediate size among studies reporting stream mesocosm results. Their set-up is unique for their size, with a high degree of engineering controls for continuous flow-through dose-response designs, yet fixed, chronic exposures to contaminants under conditions that quantifiably mimic real stream riffle/run habitat with consistent upstream renewal. With fifty standard operating procedures serving ESF studies, the background and boundary condition information is collected to determine the realism critical to the field relevance of the results. Parallel ex situ and in situ single species exposure formats including fish survival and fecundity metrics are also included. With this framework studies at ESF provide scientifically defensible evaluation of proposed aquatic life criteria.