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Taxa Richness Variation & Networked Measurement of Ionic Strength to Monitor Waterway Health

This study explored variation in waterway health within a small geography and whether remote monitoring systems can show real time changes from natural and human activity. Environmental monitoring can be costly, requiring expensive equipment and personnel on site. The STream Observation and Networking Equipment (STONE) is a device low cost enough to be left in the field, with the capability to upload data to a web site. Freshwater macroinvertebrate samples were collected from five sites with a seine net and identified to the family level. Chemical sampling was also performed. The STONE device is constructed from a Raspberry Pi, integrated circuits, recycled electronic components, and open source software. It measures ionic strength, which can indicate a broad range of pollution from nutrients to road salt. Calibration is accomplished with known NaCl solutions. Resistance measurements and temperature are used to calculate TDS. Data is posted real time to a web site. Of the five sites sampled, the two with the lowest nutrient pollution also had the highest taxa richness. Seven macroinvertebrate families were found only at one site in the Princeton Ridge. The STONE device showed a statistically significant difference between sites on three different streams and the controls. This study showed the link between taxa richness and nutrient pollution, and that macroinvertebrate species can vary significantly within a small area. Initial data reads from the STONE device are promising. Open source hardware, software and recycled material can be used to create a device sensitive to water health metrics, and display the data real time on a web site.

Sonja Michaluk (Primary Presenter/Author),;