Status of benthic macroinvertebrate communities and toxicity of sediments in the Eighteenmile Creek Area of Concern, New York

Science Center Objects

Background: The USGS propose a collaborative investigation with the NYSDEC to evaluate the current condition of benthic macroinvertebrate communities and toxicity of bed sediments in the Eighteenmile Creek Area of Concern (AOC). Sediment-toxicity data provided by the USGS and benthic-community data provided by the NYSDEC from inside the AOC will be compared to similar data from non-AOC sites i...

Background: The USGS propose a collaborative investigation with the NYSDEC to evaluate the current condition of benthic macroinvertebrate communities and toxicity of bed sediments in the Eighteenmile Creek Area of Concern (AOC).  Sediment-toxicity data provided by the USGS and benthic-community data provided by the NYSDEC from inside the AOC will be compared to similar data from non-AOC sites in Eighteenmile Creek or nearby reference streams (of comparable drainage areas) to determine if the benthos-BUI (Beneficial-Use Impairment) designation is appropriate or if the BUI could be removed in Eighteenmile Creek. The remainder of this pre-proposal addresses only the direct USGS (sediment toxicity assessment) contribution to the overall program.
 

Approach: The general approach for the USGS sediment-toxicity study in the Eighteenmile Creek AOC  is outlined below as six sequential tasks; (1) planning/reconnaissance, (2) establishing subcontracts, (3) field surveys, (4) toxicity testing, (5) data analysis and interpretation, and (6) preparation of an interpretive sediment-toxicity report or paper.

Task 1 – Project planning and reconnaissance will occur during winter/spring of year 1 and consist of finalizing a draft work plan, obtaining RAP committee and other stakeholder input, selecting target study sites, and reconnaissance visits. Prospective study sites will be visited to evaluate accessibility and bed sediments. The sampling plan and field logistics will be finalized following the reconnaissance visits.

Task 2 - Subcontracts for testing acute and chronic toxicity of sediments (using USEPA-approved methods for two invertebrate species - Chironomus dilutus and Hyallela azteca) will be established during spring of year 1. This will entail identifying subcontractors, inviting bids for toxicity tests, assessing bids, selecting the final contract laboratory, and assembling a purchase (or services) agreement.

Task 3 - The field surveys will be done during the summer of year 1, and will consist of collecting benthic-community and sediment samples once from as many as 8 sites in Eighteenmile Creek and a nearby reference (control) stream. The sampling design will enable us to define the current conditions in depositional areas with statistically defensible metrics; i.e., with known levels of variability. Two sediment samples will also be collected in duplicate to evaluate the reproducibility and precision of endpoints for the toxicity tests. At each site, a Petite Ponar sampler will be used to collect 5 replicate macroinvertebrate-community samples, and to collect a single composite sediment sample for toxicity testing. Bed-sediment size and organic content will be quantified by a NYSDEC subcontract laboratory using a split from the composite sediment-toxicity sample.

Task 4 - The sediment toxicity tests or bioassays will be conducted by a subcontract laboratory during summer/fall of year 1 to define the current levels of toxicity in sediments from study sites in the AOC. Acute (survival) and chronic (growth) toxicity tests will be conducted using C. dilutus and H. azteca and follow standard USEPA-approved methods (ASTM, 2010; USEPA, 1994, 2000).

Task 5 - Data analysis and interpretation will be conducted during the winter/spring of year 2. Graphical and statistical analyses, including multivariate ordination methods, will be used to summarize current (baseline) sediment toxicity levels in the Eighteenmile Creek AOC. Results will also be used to quantify variability and to evaluate the suitability of the current benthos-BUI designation.

Task 6 - One USGS report or peer-reviewed journal manuscript (paper) will be prepared during the spring/summer/fall of year 2 in collaboration with NYSDEC staff. This report will summarize baseline sediment-toxicity levels and the condition of macroinvertebrate communities.  Toxicity data will be evaluated using parametric ANOVA or nonparametric Kruskal-Wallis analysis of variance tests to evaluate the hypothesis that bed sediments from sites inside the Eighteenmile Creek AOC are no more toxic to test species than is sediment collected from control sites outside the AOC.  Comparable analyses will be done using macroinvertebrate community metrics. These findings will be used to determine if the benthos-BUI designation is appropriate or if the BUI could be removed in the Eighteenmile Creek AOC. The draft report/paper will undergo USGS technical and editorial reviews and revision prior to submission for publication internally or via a peer-reviewed journal.

References:

ASTM, 2010. Standard E1706 - 05, 2010, Standard Test Method for Measuring the Toxicity of Sediment-Associated Contaminants with Freshwater Invertebrates. ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA.

USEPA, 1994. Methods for measuring the toxicity and bioaccumulation of sediment-associated contaminants with freshwater invertebrates. First Edition. US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Duluth, MN.

USEPA, 2000. Methods for measuring the toxicity and bioaccumulation of sediment associated contaminants with freshwater invertebrates. Second Edition. US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Duluth, MN.

Report

George, Scott D., Duffy, Brian T., Baldigo, Barry P., 2017. Assessing the status of sediment toxicity and macroinvertebrate communities in the Eighteenmile Creek Area of Concern, New York, Journal of Great Lakes Research, Volume 43, Issue 3, June 2017, Pages 55-63

Project
Location by County

Niagara County, NY