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A Study in Stream Ecology

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A Study in Stream Ecology



[Intro Music begins]



[Steven Sobieszczyk] Each year USGS scientists systematically





assess the ecological health and water-quality conditions in





streams and rivers across the United States. This research





plays a vital role in land management and natural





resource decisions around the country. Contrary to





popular belief, these extensive data collection efforts





completed by researchers in the USGS National





Water-Quality Assessment Program involve much





more than just water quality.





[Kurt Carpenter] Back when the NAWQA program





first started, the National Water-Quality Assessment





Program, they recognized the need to incorporate biology





into the sampling. We look at the algae that’s in the different





streams and rivers and the bugs that eat the algae and then







also the fish that rely upon the bugs as a food source.





We also look at the habitat and the water quality





to see how all these different groups of organisms





respond to things like nutrients, pesticides,





temperature, and other stressors.







[Ian Waite] What we’ve done is we’ve developed





these methods that seem to work well across the nation.





We have standard methods and standard protocols





and so that way when we do the sampling here…





and the same methods are used back in the east





coast or the Midwest or whatever, that we’ve





sampled everything in the same way. So we can





compare and combine the data sets and





actually assess things nationally or regionally.





[Kurt Carpenter] The program, in general, is







looking at watersheds across the nation in





pretty large river basins. And that has provided





hundreds and hundreds of sampling locations





in areas of urbanization, agricultural land uses,





but also in settings like this…forested ecosystems





that haven’t been as impacted by anthropogenic activities.





[Ian Waite] One of the things that’s really





important in what we call “biologic assessments”





of streams, so how do we…can we understand the





conditions of streams and make a comparison





between one stream and the next is…you have to





know what is your reference, or minimally





impacted condition. If you don’t know what your





benchmark is, you can’t then say when are things





impacted or impaired or how or when are things





changing. With climate change? Or with land





use changes? You need to know your benchmark.





[Ian Waite] All the different ecological data, the





algae, the macroinvertebrates, the fish, they give





us different indications of what’s happening. One of





the things we’re realizing is that it’s important to





study more than one type of biological organism in





the stream. Because each one can give you a slightly





different signal. The other thing that it really gives





us an indication of…is land use affects. Or when





we look at the affects of agricultural land use on





streams that we see that the biological is a really





good response indicator of impacts due to water





quality, or habitat changes, or sedimentation, or things like that.





[Kurt Carpenter] When we start to see impacts







from things like water pollution on the biota,





we see that in a variety of indicator species, a





lot of the time we’ll see the diversity decline.





Instead of having a food web where nutrients





and light energy combine to produce a real





productive stream that we tend to see as having





a healthy trout population, or at least in these





mountainous streams in the west. What you





find is that you don’t see very many trout





and the benthic vertebrate population is greatly





simplified, you don’t see a lot of mayflies





and stoneflies or other types of food for the fish.





That can ultimately be traced back to water pollution.





[Ian Waite] Water quality is important to sample





but one of the problems is it is expensive and





it is only a one-time sample. It only grabs the





water and gives you an assessment of what is





happening at that one time. Where the biology,





they live there all year long. So what you find





when you’re sampling is they’ve been living





and have been exposed to all the conditions





that have happened all year long. And that’s





why biology is a really good indicator of the whole system.





[Kurt Carpenter] A lot of the management and





policy decisions that are set are driven by





bio-criteria. And so we look at the health of





biologic communities, really the full assemblage





of fish, bugs, and the algae to get a full assessment





of what the biota look like. But then we also





collect samples and analyze water samples for





nutrients and pesticides. Through the monitoring





that we do and these interdisciplinary studies,





and multidisciplinary approaches, we use all kinds





of different modeling, and multivariate statistics





and tease all this stuff apart, but ultimately we hope





that the information we generate can be used by





management agencies that dictate things like





nutrient levels that are permitted in streams and





controlling runoff and erosion and all those sort





of processes. And really, without this kind of





information where do you really begin.





[Steven Sobieszczyk] To find out more about NAWQA





sampling efforts in your area or to learn more about how





the USGS monitors the ecological health of rivers in the





United States, please visit the USGS online. Historical





data from Oregon, as well as the rest of the country can





be found at our National Water Information





System or at our biodata websites.





This has been a video production of the Oregon





Science Podcast, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior.



[Outro Music ends]

Details

Title: A Study in Stream Ecology

Description:

In this episode we explore how scientists for the USGS National Water Quality Assessment Program investigate the ecological health of rivers and streams across the United States. Focusing on a recent sampling effort along the Minam River in northeast Oregon, this video highlights USGS sampling methods for fish, macroinvertebrates (bugs), algae, and habitat. Join us, as we show biometric data can be used to assess the health of streams, only in this episode of the USGS CoreCast.

Location: OR, Minam River, USA

Date Taken: 8/17/2011

Length: 6:56

Video Producer: Steven Sobieszczyk , U.S. Geological Survey


Note: This video has been released into the public domain by the U.S. Geological Survey for use in its entirety. Some videos may contain pieces of copyrighted material. If you wish to use a portion of the video for any purpose, other than for resharing/reposting the video in its entirety, please contact the Video Producer/Videographer listed with this video. Please refer to the USGS Copyright section for how to credit this video.

Additional Video Credits:

PRODUCER: Steven Sobieszczyk

Ian Waite, Kurt Carpenter, David Piatt, Whitney Temple, Terry Maret, Steven Sobieszczyk

Source:

See NAWQA Protocols – Method, Sampling, and Analytical Protocols here

See NAWQA Website here

File Details:

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