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HP8 Field Biological Monitoring of Ecosystem Impairment
() Inferring causes of biological impairment in Appalachian streams (3): integrating multiple lines of evidence.
Gerritsen, J.1, Bailey, J.4, Boschen, C.2, Burton, J.2, Lowman, B.4, Ludwig, J.3, Wilkes, S.3, Wirts, J. 4, Zheng, L.1, 1 Tetra Tech Inc., Owings Mills, MD, USA4 West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Charleston, WV, USA2 Tetra Tech Inc., Fairfax, VA, USA3 Tetra Tech Inc., Charleston, WV, USA
ABSTRACT- Human activities such as mining, logging, agriculture and residential development have caused biological degradation to streams of West Virginia, USA. EPA's Stressor Identification approach was used to identify causes of degradation in these streams for development of management plans (TMDL). We integrated watershed-based conceptual models of impairment, field biological and chemical monitoring databases, empirical models of biological impairment, and ecotoxicological principles in a strength of evidence approach to infer causes of impairment. Candidate causes included known toxic contaminants (metals), conventional pollutants (organic and nutrient enrichment), sedimentation, habitat degradation, and ionic concentration (conductivity). Analysis of some candidate causes was modified by the measures available that documented them. Candidate causes were screened to eliminate those shown not to co-occur with effects. Remaining candidate causes were ranked according to considerations of evidence within each watershed, as well as from statewide empirical models and from other published sources. Strongest inferences were obtained where the independent predictive model agreed with within-watershed observations of stressor measures. Final stressor determinations for each watershed will be used for the development of management plans (TMDL development and implementation).
Key words: bioassessment, stressor identification, streams, TMDL
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