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Biological assessment of streams in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area, Indiana, 1999-2001

November 1, 2004

During 1999?2001, benthic invertebrates and fish were sampled to describe biological communities in the White River and selected tributaries in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area in Indiana. Twelve sites (six on the White River and six on tributaries) were sampled biannually for benthic invertebrates and annually for fish. The information complements water-chemistry data collected by the Indianapolis Department of Public Works in the study area.

Evaluation of the habitat for sites in the study area was done, using a Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) developed by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The QHEI scores basin and habitat characteristics for each site, with a maximum possible score of 100. Higher scores indicate better habitat conditions for biotic communities. The QHEI scores for sites on the White River ranged from 55 at the Harding site to 71 at the Waverly site; scores on the tributaries ranged from 45 on Pogues Run to 82 on Williams Creek.

A total of 151 taxa were identified from the benthic-invertebrate samples. The Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera (EPT) Index scores for sites on the White River ranged from 0 at the Harding site to 15 at the Nora site. The Nora site, which is upstream from Indianapolis, generally scored the highest of all White River sites. Sites in the immediate vicinity of Indianapolis scored the lowest and indicate a negative effect on benthic-invertebrate communities in that reach. EPT Index scores increased in the farthest downstream reaches, which indicate that water-quality conditions had improved in comparison to sites in Indianapolis. For the tributary sites, EPT Index values ranged from 0 at Pogues Run to 16 at Buck Creek. Tributary sites on Fall Creek, Pleasant Run, and Pogues Run consistently scored 7 or lower; sites on Buck Creek, Eagle Creek, and Williams Creek scored 7 or higher.

Hilsenhoff Biotic Index (HBI) scores ranged from 4.9 (good) to 9.6 (very poor) for the White River sites and from 5.2 (good) to 8.0 (poor) for the tributary sites. The lowest scores among the White River sites were at the Nora site, indicating the best water-quality conditions were where the White River enters Marion County. The highest HBI scores were at the Morris and Harding sites, indicating the least-favorable water-quality conditions of all the White River sites. Of the tributary sites, HBI scores for Buck, Eagle, and Williams Creeks indicate fair water-quality conditions; HBI scores for Pleasant Run and Pogues Run were the highest, indicating relatively poor water-quality conditions.

On the White River, the highest Invertebrate Community Index (ICI) scores, which indicate the best benthic-invertebrate conditions, were at the Nora site. Conditions were fair to poor in the downtown Indianapolis area; ICI scores indicate slight improvement in the downstream reaches of the study area. Of the tributary sites, Buck Creek was the only site with ICI scores indicating exceptional water quality. Williams Creek ICI scores indicate good water quality; the remaining tributary-site scores reflect fair conditions.

A total of 74 species and 3 hybrids of fish were identified during the study period. The Cyprinidae (carps and minnows) was the largest group of fish identified and consisted of more than half of all fish collected. The most numerous species was the central stoneroller (Campostoma anomalum), which accounted for almost 25 percent of the fish identified. Two nonnative species, the koi carp (Cyprinus carpio) and the western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), and one species classified as an Indiana species of special concern, the northern studfish (Fundulus catenatus), also were collected during the study.

Indiana Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) and Ohio Index of Biotic Integrity scores were calculated to show the condition of the fish communities at each site. Results of the Indiana IBI calculations showed no apparent differences in scores among the Wh

Citation Information

Publication Year 2004
Title Biological assessment of streams in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area, Indiana, 1999-2001
DOI 10.3133/wri034331
Authors David C. Voelker
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 2003-4331
Index ID wri034331
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse