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Eutrophication, or excess nutrients in streams, is typically one of the top reasons that a stream is listed as impaired on the 303(d) list as part of the Clean Water Act.
Initially it was hoped that a strong linear relation would be found between nutrient and algal biomass concentrations, such as chlorophyll a, that would allow standards to be set to improve water quality. Unlike in lakes, a strong correlation has not been found and it has become important to use biological community response to nutrient concentrations to show improvements in water quality.
The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana WSC has had several projects with multiple collaborators to assess the biological response to nutrients since 2001. The first collaboration was with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) that added an assessment of algal biomass, both sestonic and periphytic chlorophyll a (CHLa) to the sites being sampled by IDEM for macroinvertebrate and fish community data. The goals of this early work were to provide an algal biomass assessment in Indiana streams and rivers as well as assess if algal biomass would correlate to biological community variables. Over 300 sites were sampled in Indiana between 2001 and 2005 in order to investigate the effects of nutrients on algal biomass and biological communities. The results from these studies will be used by IDEM to develop nutrient criteria for Indiana rivers and streams.
A second major study was done in Indiana and Ohio as part of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Nutrient Enrichment Effects (NEET) study. The analysis in this study relates algal-, invertebrate-, and fish-community composition to habitat, nutrients, and land-use variables along a previously determined nutrient-concentration gradient. The study was conducted in 30 agriculturally dominated watersheds within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Level III Eastern Corn Belt Plains (Ecoregion 55). Study sites were selected to minimize differences in the physical habitat while maximizing differences in nutrient concentration along a nutrient (TP and TN) gradient. In regional-gradient studies of biological communities, it is important to minimize the effects of natural variables that can mask the relations between the variables of interest, in this case nutrients, and their effects on the biological community. These natural variables can include geology, soils, land use, basin size, and physical habitat. Information from this study may help determine which biological-community-composition group or groups are most appropriate in nutrient-assessment studies and nutrient-criteria development.
Nutrient, habitat, and basin-characteristics data and relations with fish- and invertebrate communities in Indiana streams (1998-2000)
Relations of principal components analysis site scores to algal-biomass, habitat, basin-characteristics, nutrients, and biological-community data in the West Fork White River Basin, Indiana (2001)
Relations of principal components analysis site scores to algal-biomass, habitat, basin-characteristics, nutrient, and biological-community data in the Whitewater River and East Fork White River Basins (2002)
Relations of principal components analysis site scores to algal-biomass, habitat, basin-characteristics, nutrient, and biological-community data in the Upper Wabash River Basin, Indiana (2003)
Occurrence and distribution of algal biomass and its relations to nutrients and selected basin characteristics in Indiana streams
Breakpoint Analysis and Assessment of Selected Stressor Variables on Benthic Macroinvertebrate and Fish Communities in Indiana Streams: Implications for Developing Nutrient Criteria
Phytoplankton growth and assembly in relation to nutrient supply and other environmental factors in the White River Basin, Indiana
Assessment of nutrient enrichment by use of algal-, invertebrate-, and fish-community attributes in wadeable streams in ecoregions surrounding the Great Lakes
Algal-biomass data for each specific year of the IDEM/USGS study
Below are publications associated with this project.
Below are partners associated with this project.