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Comparison of macroinvertebrate community structure between two riffle-based sampling protocols in Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana, 2000-2001

June 8, 2006

Samples of benthic macroinvertebrates were collected side-by-side from riffles at 12 stream sites in Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana during 2000-2001, following protocols established by the U.S. Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP). Samples from riffles were collected following NAWQA protocols, using a sampler with 425-micron net mesh-opening size from a total area of 1.25 m2 per sample in multiple riffles. Samples also were collected following EMAP protocols, using a sampler with 500-micron net mesh-opening size from a total area of 0.72 m2 per sample in multiple riffles. The taxonomic identification and enumeration of the samples followed procedures established for each program. Benthic macroinvertebrate community structure was compared between the data sets using individual metrics, a multimetric index, and multivariate analysis.

Comparisons between the macroinvertebrate community structures were made after sequentially adjusting both data sets for: (1) ambiguous taxa, (2) taxonomic inconsistencies, and (3) differences in laboratory subsampling. After removal of ambiguous taxa, pair-wise differences in total taxa richness and Ephemeroptera taxa richness were statistically significant (p < 0.05). Differences between the data sets generally were not significant for richness of other taxa, tolerant taxa, semi-voltine taxa, functional feeding groups, diversity, and dominance. Sample scores calculated using the Wyoming Stream Integrity Index were not significantly different between the two data sets. After reconciling both data sets for taxonomic inconsistencies, total taxa richness and Ephemeroptera taxa richness remained significantly different between the data sets. After adjusting the data for differences in laboratory subsampling, the differences in taxa richness were no longer significant. Bray-Curtis similarity coefficients and non-metric multi-dimensional scaling were used to examine macroinvertebrate community structure. Similarity in community structure between sites was affected to a greater extent by taxa reconciliation than by adjustment for subsampling.