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A Comparative Analysis of Indices in REMAP Monitoring Studies in New York/New Jersey Harbor

Sandra J. Benyi 1 and Darvene A. Adams 2

1 U.S. EPA, ORD, NHEERL, Atlantic Ecology Division, 27 Tarzwell Dr., Narragansett, RI 02882
2 U.S. EPA, Region II, 2890 Woodbridge Ave., Edison, NJ 08837

Two regional monitoring efforts (1993/1994 and 1998) were conducted in the New York/New Jersey Harbor system. U.S. EPA-Region II (Edison, New Jersey) sought to evaluate the condition of the Harbor sediments and the changes over time as part of the Regional Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (REMAP). To assess the utility of measures of health for classifying degraded waters that were collected and calculated in these REMAP studies, comparisons were made among two benthic community indices, oxygen levels in the bottom waters, concentrations of sediment contaminants, and sediment toxicity determined using exposures of the amphipod Ampelisca abdita. There were two purposes of this analysis. One was to compare results of classifying waters as degraded or not degraded using the Index of Biotic Integrity (I-BI) and the EMAP Benthic Index (BI). The second was to compare results obtained using those indices with results from other measures of condition. The I-BI was developed specifically for the NY area, and the EMAP BI for the entire Virginian Province.

In most cases, the EMAP BI was more conservative than either the I-BI or criteria for chronic dissolved oxygen when classifying degraded areas. Conversely, benchmarks for chemical contamination of the sediments (Effects Range-Median) were determined to be the least conservative. The data reports highlight the areal extent of conditions such as low concentrations of dissolved oxygen or degraded benthic condition, while these comparative analyses go beyond areal extent and help clarify factors which may be driving a degraded condition.

Keywords: REMAP, benthic index, New York Harbor

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