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Integrated Analyses of Fish, Macroinvertebrate and Algal IBI's in the Mid-Atlantic Uplands: A Complete Bioassesment Approach

Thomas Belton 1, Richard J. Horwitz 2, Camille A. Flinders 2, Brian Margolis 3

1 New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP), Trenton, New Jersey
2 Patrick Center for Environmental Research, The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
3 New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Freshwater Monitoring (NJ DEP BFM), Trenton, New Jersey

Indices of biotic integrity (IBI) have been developed for fish, macroinvertebrates, and algae, but correlations among IBI's are often low. These discrepancies possibly result from different responses of the taxonomic assemblages/indices to various stressors, from biases in implementation (e.g., criteria for inclusion of sampling sites), from lack of concordance of precise sampling dates or location among taxa, or from inherent statistical variability within indices. Integrated analyses of indices can provide more powerful, robust, and defensible assessments if the bases for agreement and disagreement among indices are known. Furthermore, understanding relationships among indices is critical to their use for assessment, monitoring, regulation, and research purposes. The State of New Jersey currently uses macroinvertebrate indices and a region-specific fish IBI for bioassessment, and algal indices of nutrient enrichment are currently under development. We examined the relationships among standard fish, macroinvertebrate, and algal metrics from multiple datasets at 197 sites in the mid-Atlantic uplands (Piedmont, Ridge and Valley, and Highlands regions) from NJ DEP as well as similar data from a variety of sampling programs in PA, NJ, and NY. Metric variance was low among datasets within taxa groups. PCA and CCA analyses showed low intercorrelation among fish and macroinvertebrate indices and metrics, but a negative correlation between algal diversity and macroinvertebrate metrics. Ongoing analyses examining the relationship between metrics and land use will be used to develop conceptual models relating stressors, biota, environmental characteristics, and metrics for a bioassessment framework and lead to more efficient and effective monitoring protocols.

Keywords: IBI, integrated assessment, fish, macroinvertebrate, algae, land use, streams

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