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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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