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SFS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
14:00 - 15:30

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14:00 - 14:15: / 330 A REGIONAL ASSESSMENTS OF AQUATIC INTACTNESS: SENSITIVITY OF INFERENCES TO DIFFERENCES IN DATA SOURCES, SCORING, AND AGGREGATION

5/22/2018  |   14:00 - 14:15   |  330 A

REGIONAL ASSESSMENTS OF AQUATIC INTACTNESS: SENSITIVITY OF INFERENCES TO DIFFERENCES IN DATA SOURCES, SCORING, AND AGGREGATION Direct inventories of the physicochemical and biological condition of all waterways would ideally inform aquatic resource management; however, complete inventories are impractical due to prohibitive costs. Alternatively, regional assessments seek to infer aquatic conditions for all waterways based on the absence of anthropogenic activities. Readily available geospatial measurements of land uses and surface disturbances influencing ecological processes or services (i.e., aquatic intactness) are used. Despite rising popularity, neither the accuracy nor the comparability of regional aquatic assessments have been tested, and no standard framework for their construction has emerged. We review regional assessments of aquatic intactness conducted to date in the U.S. and use three case studies to demonstrate how differences in scope, data types and methods of scoring and aggregation can affect final assessment outcomes. For example, a comparison of three assessments done for the same region had low comparability (R2 ranged from 0.15 – 0.36), despite using similar data inputs, and all three assessment scores were poorly correlated with direct measures of biological condition. In this talk, we will discuss best practices for conducting regional assessments and suggest a path forward that should improve assessment performance and interpretability.

Scott Miller (Primary Presenter/Author), BLM/USU National Aquatic Monitoring Center, Department of Watershed Sciences, Utah State University, scott.miller@usu.edu;


Christian Perry (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Department of Watershed Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA, christian.perry@usu.edu;


Charles Hawkins (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Department of Watershed Sciences, National Aquatic Monitoring Center, and Ecology Center, Utah State University, Logan Utah 84322-5210, chuck.hawkins@usu.edu;


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14:15 - 14:30: / 330 A KEY CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN INCORPORATING ENVIRONMENTAL FLOWS INTO BIOASSESSMENT

5/22/2018  |   14:15 - 14:30   |  330 A

KEY CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN INCORPORATING ENVIRONMENTAL FLOWS INTO BIOASSESSMENT California’s biointegrity program proposes to regulate stream conditions based on benthic macroinvertebrate community composition. Several approaches are being explored to quantitatively link hydrologic alteration to benthic community changes. To be effective, methods should be applicable statewide, founded on mechanistic flow - ecology relationships, and able to discern hydrologic alteration from covariates. To accomplish these goals, we propose a regional approach for linking ecological endpoints with functional aspects of the flow regime. This functional flows framework offers an opportunity to develop mechanistic regional flow – ecology relationships through selection of function-specific hydrologic and biological metrics. Key steps of this framework are to (1) generate a statewide stream classification; (2) formulate a set of functional components of the natural flow regime and associated metrics relevant to ecological endpoints; and (3) propose and test biological response mechanisms to metric alteration. Expected outcomes of this framework are mechanistic stream class- and function-specific flow – ecology relationships to guide scientifically-informed establishment of flow targets, designation of impairment thresholds, and establishment of causal assessment relationships. We will demonstrate early products of this effort in support of the state’s developing biointegrity program.

Eric Stein (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), SCCWRP, erics@sccwrp.org;


Sarah Yarnell (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of California, Davis, smyarnell@ucdavis.edu;


Julie Zimmerman (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), The Nature Conservancy, julie.zimmerman@tnc.org;


Robert Lusardi (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of California, Davis, ralusardi@gmail.com;


Belize Lane (Primary Presenter/Author), Utah State University, belize.lane@usu.edu;


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14:30 - 14:45: / 330 A KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE AND SOCIAL CAPITAL FOR FRESHWATER ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENTS

5/22/2018  |   14:30 - 14:45   |  330 A

KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE AND SOCIAL CAPITAL FOR FRESHWATER ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENTS Freshwater ecosystems are imperiled due to competing uses and threats, including agricultural demands, recreational use, pollution, and climate change. Legal protections for freshwaters are largely encompassed in the Clean Water Act of 1972, which mandates the maintenance and restoration of ecological integrity. Beyond this legal framework, however, the social and management capital that is available to implement protections, management, and conservation action is not well understood. To assess the current status of knowledge exchange and social capital, we conducted a social network analysis on the authors and publications related to freshwater assessments for wetlands, lakes, streams, riparian areas, and watersheds. Despite dominance of academic institutions in the literature, these studies and authors exhibit only a medium degree of network connectedness. Conversely, authors at national laboratories and research stations are highly connected, supporting the leadership role of federal agencies in water quality research. Connectivity between ecosystem types is relatively rare, with riparian and watershed-type assessments exhibiting the lowest connectivity. We explore how the current configuration of knowledge exchange and social capital in the freshwater assessment community could be strategically optimized to better support and improve freshwater management and conservation goals.

Lauren Kuehne (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Washington, lkuehne@uw.edu;


Julian Olden (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Washington, olden@uw.edu;


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14:45 - 15:00: / 330 A THE LAW AND POLICY IMPACTS OF ADVANCES IN ASSESSMENT METHODS FOR AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM INTEGRITY: CAN THE LAW CATCH UP TO THE SCIENCE?

5/22/2018  |   14:45 - 15:00   |  330 A

THE LAW AND POLICY IMPACTS OF ADVANCES IN ASSESSMENT METHODS FOR AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM INTEGRITY: CAN THE LAW CATCH UP TO THE SCIENCE? Since Clean Water Act enactment (CWA) in 1972, aquatic scientists have developed a range of new tools to assess aquatic ecosystem health. Despite the CWA’s broad objective to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters,” statutory implementation focused initially on chemical water quality improvement, and on point and nonpoint sources of chemical stressors. Newer methods assess other indicators of aquatic ecosystem health, including species composition and distribution, land condition, terrestrial habitat quality, and hydrologic alteration. CWA implementation integrates this new methodology into programs to identify impaired waters and to target statutory implementation. Integration of new scientific assessment into other aspects of CWA implementation, such as permitting and enforcement, has been slower and more complicated. That lag is explained in part by challenges in reliably linking aquatic ecosystem impairment to specific sources. More recent scientific research is beginning to provide tools to establish those linkages. Three approaches to law and policy change will be explored to help identify ways to use improvements in scientific assessment to generate parallel improvements in statutory implementation: modifications to agency policy and practice, regulatory changes, and potential statutory amendments.

Robert Adler (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law, Robert.Adler@law.utah.edu;


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15:00 - 15:15: / 330 A THE LAW AND POLICY IMPACTS OF ADVANCES IN ASSESSMENT METHODS FOR AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM INTEGRITY: CAN THE LAW CATCH UP TO THE SCIENCE?

5/22/2018  |   15:00 - 15:15   |  330 A

THE LAW AND POLICY IMPACTS OF ADVANCES IN ASSESSMENT METHODS FOR AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM INTEGRITY: CAN THE LAW CATCH UP TO THE SCIENCE? Since Clean Water Act enactment (CWA) in 1972, aquatic scientists have developed a range of new tools to assess aquatic ecosystem health. Despite the CWA’s broad objective to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters,” statutory implementation focused initially on chemical water quality improvement, and on point and nonpoint sources of chemical stressors. Newer methods assess other indicators of aquatic ecosystem health, including species composition and distribution, land condition, terrestrial habitat quality, and hydrologic alteration. CWA implementation integrates this new methodology into programs to identify impaired waters and to target statutory implementation. Integration of new scientific assessment into other aspects of CWA implementation, such as permitting and enforcement, has been slower and more complicated. That lag is explained in part by challenges in reliably linking aquatic ecosystem impairment to specific sources. More recent scientific research is beginning to provide tools to establish those linkages. Three approaches to law and policy change will be explored to help identify ways to use improvements in scientific assessment to generate parallel improvements in statutory implementation: modifications to agency policy and practice, regulatory changes, and potential statutory amendments.

Robert Adler (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law, Robert.Adler@law.utah.edu;


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