Research Task: WRD
Task Manager: Robert Zuellig
The primary goal of this research is to investigate how functional characteristics (invertebrate community traits) of streams vary across large geographic areas in the U.S. and determine if any observed variability is due to human influence or natural environmental differences between or within EPA level III ecoregions. Specifically, investigators will (1) describe the functional characteristics of relatively undisturbed (reference) sites across the United States, (2) describe which functional characteristics vary across ecoregions, (3) determine natural environmental factors that describe differences in functional characteristics of streams, and (4) describe relations between functional characteristics and disturbance gradients. With these results we seek to answer five questions: (1) Are functional characteristics of streams similar or different across the selected ecoregions? (2) If different, how do functional characteristics change across the landscape? (3) What functional characteristics vary the most and least? (4) What natural or disturbance gradients describe functional characteristics? (5) Are functional characteristics in disturbed basins different from reference basins, or is the response to disturbance masked by natural variability? This project is timely because little is known about functional characteristics of streams at large scales in the United States. Functional characteristics of streams are being tested for their utility in biological assessment programs in other countries and have been used in the United States for localized indicators of specific stressors. This project provides a solid foundation for bioassessment practitioners interested in using functional characteristics of streams as indicators of stream condition in the United States and provides an avenue of comparing similar results from other countries.
For more information contact Robert Zuellig