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Urban development and stream ecosystem health—Science capabilities of the U.S. Geological Survey

April 29, 2016

Urban development creates multiple stressors that can degrade stream ecosystems by changing stream hydrology, water quality, and physical habitat. Contaminants, habitat destruction, and increasing streamflow variability resulting from urban development have been associated with the disruption of biological communities, particularly the loss of sensitive aquatic biota. Understanding how algal, invertebrate, and fish communities respond to these physical and chemical stressors can provide important clues as to how streams should be managed to protect stream ecosystems as a watershed becomes increasingly urbanized. The U.S. Geological Survey continues to lead monitoring efforts and scientific studies on the effects of urban development on stream ecosystems in metropolitan areas across the United States.