Habitat Features and Aquatic Health: Evaluating California’s Stream Bioassessment Procedure in Natural and Artificial Streams in a Grazed Eastern Sierra Valley
Kenneth W. Tate
Agronomy & Range Science
This research explores a central question in the development and use of macroinvertebrate-based stream bioassessment procedures: to what extent do habitat features, particularly those which respond linearly to human activities (e.g. bank and riparian features), correlate with "healthy" aquatic biota? Using the newly-released California Stream Bioassessment Procedures (CA Department of Fish and Game, 1998), we will 1) assess the biotic integrity of macroinvertebrate communities in 15 natural and manmade streams flowing through Bridgeport Valley in the eastern Sierra; 2) determine whether a correlation exists between assessment scores and selected habitat parameters; and 3) determine whether biotic integrity, as measured by macroinvertebrate communities, is a predictor of salmonid abundance in a stream.
There has been very little research into correlations between habitat features and benthic macroinvertebrates, or into relationships between a macroinvertebrate-based assessment of aquatic health and salmonid abundance. By addressing these questions, this project will advance basic knowledge about aquatic ecosystems. It will also provide a critical evaluation of California's Stream Bioassessment Procedure and its component metrics. Finally, because the research sites will be specifically chosen to include sites impacted by grazing and bank alteration, it will also allow us to make connections between land use, habitat parameters, and aquatic ecosystem health.