Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Granting Department

Environmental Science and Policy

Major Professor

James Gore, Ph.D.

Keywords

Stream health, Biological monitoring, Sediment, Best management practice, Non-point source pollution, RBP, Rapid bioassessment

Abstract

Using benthic macroinvertebrates to measure stream health has been widely used and accepted around the world. Macroinvertebrates are resident monitors of chronic impairment in a stream since they are relatively sessile and most commonly respond to disturbance by drift but can recolonize a restored stream reach very quickly. This study tested the effectiveness of macroinvertebrate metrics developed through the Rapid Bioassessment Protocol (RBP) to detect changes in stream integrity as the result of placement of a best management practice (BMP), installed on a tributary of Roaring Branch, located in Columbus, Georgia. The BMP was designed to attenuate flow to reduce sediment suspension and downstream deposition. A sampling protocol derived from the Georgia Ecoregions Project was implemented to evaluate the macroinvertebrate community, located downstream of the BMP, and downstream of the confluence with Roaring Branch, both before and after the BMP installation. The resulting metrics were compared to a reference condition described for subecoregion 65c, sandhills-lower piedmont. A dramatic improvement or increase of macroinvertebrate populations suggests an improvement in water quality (via reduction in fine sediment deposition) due to improved physical habitat conditions for indicators (Trichoptera) of healthier streams. The results of this study suggests further restoration activities should continue and that re-evaluation of the sampling protocol should take into account a larger subsample size of benthic macroinvertebrates than currently recommended by the RBP.

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