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SFS Annual Meeting

Thursday, June 6, 2024
10:30 - 12:00

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C17 Bioassessment

10:30 - 10:45 | Salon 10 | MAKING IT EASIER FOR STATES TO IDENTIFY CAUSES OF BIOLOGICAL IMPAIRMENT THROUGH ADAPTATION OF A CAUSAL ASSESSMENT SCREENING TOOL (CASTOOL)

6/06/2024  |   10:30 - 10:45   |  Salon 10

MAKING IT EASIER FOR STATES TO IDENTIFY CAUSES OF BIOLOGICAL IMPAIRMENT THROUGH ADAPTATION OF A CAUSAL ASSESSMENT SCREENING TOOL (CASTOOL) Under the U.S. Clean Water Act, states are required to identify pollutant causes of biological impairments in their streams. This determination of causes is often resource-intensive, creating a barrier that prevents many states from routinely implementing a clear and standardized causal assessment process, and states have repeatedly stated the need for more streamlined methods and tools. To meet this need, we are adapting an existing, automated causal assessment screening tool (CASTool) for easier and wider use. CASTool is a rapid screening tool originally developed in R by Tetra Tech for use in Arizona. It identifies likely (and unlikely) causes through automated analysis of several common types of evidence used in EPA’s Stressor Identification process (e.g., spatial/temporal co-occurrence, field stressor-response relationships) and a resulting weight-of-evidence evaluation of the case for or against different stressors. The tool also identifies data gaps and over time can accept additional data collected or developed by biomonitoring programs, including stressor-specific tolerance values. We are currently tailoring the CASTool for use in Oregon and Washington, while simultaneously developing a standardized protocol for CASTool adaptation to facilitate future use in other states and regions. The goal of this project is to develop a widely applicable and accessible tool for screening-level causal assessment that is streamlined, standardized, and automated, thereby facilitating more effective and comprehensive evaluation and management of biological impairments across multiple states. DISCLAIMER: Views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect views or policies of the U.S. EPA.

Kate Schofield (Primary Presenter/Author), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, schofield.kate@epa.gov;

Ann Roseberry-Lincoln (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Tetra Tech, Inc., ann.roseberrylincoln@tetratech.com;

Thomas Barnum (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), USEPA-ORD, tbarnum32@gmail.com;

Felisha Walls (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Virginia Commonwealth University, walls.felisha@epa.gov;

Chad Larson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Washington State Department of Ecology, clar461@ecy.wa.gov;

Shannon Hubler (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, hubler.shannon@deq.state.or.us;

Erik Leppo (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Tetra Tech, Inc., erik.leppo@tetratech.com;

Lisa Kusnierz (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), USEPA-Region 10, kusnierz.lisa@epa.gov;

10:45 - 11:00 | Salon 10 | INCLUDING BIOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT IN CWA 404/401 CREDITING AND DEBITING USING STREAM QUANTIFICATION TOOLS

6/06/2024  |   10:45 - 11:00   |  Salon 10

Including biological assessment in CWA 404/401 crediting and debiting using Stream Quantification Tools The Stream Quantification Tool (SQT) is an application of the Stream Functions Pyramid Framework, which organizes stream functions into a hierarchy where lower-level functions (e.g., hydrology) influence higher level functions (e.g., physicochemical). The SQT is used to assess environmental improvement and degradation from reach-scale activities. SQTs have been developed for multiple states to ensure that authorized stream impacts are adequately mitigated in the Clean Water Act Section 404 (CWA §404) regulatory program. SQTs incorporate quantitative assessment methods to score stream functions in five functional categories: hydrology, hydraulics, geomorphology, physicochemical, and biology. The tool supports multiple program and environmental management objectives by comparing measured physical, chemical, and biological conditions to reference standard. For many states, this means the use of state-developed indices of biologic integrity for macroinvertebrates and fish to assess biology functions. This presentation will introduce the SQT and how biology is being assessed in states with SQTs.

Cidney Jones (Primary Presenter/Author), Ecosystem Planning & Restoration, cjones@eprusa.net;

11:00 - 11:15 | Salon 10 | SCIENCE ON THE FLY: LEVERAGING COMMUNITY SCIENCE DATA FROM ANGLERS FOR LONG-TERM RIVER MONITORING

6/06/2024  |   11:00 - 11:15   |  Salon 10

SCIENCE ON THE FLY: LEVERAGING COMMUNITY SCIENCE DATA FROM ANGLERS FOR LONG-TERM RIVER MONITORING Long-term monitoring of rivers and streams provides a critical benchmark for quantifying the environmental impacts of climate change and human activities. However, sustaining and funding these data streams over the long term has proven challenging. Science on the Fly, a community science project started in 2019, enlists members of the passionate and invested fly-fishing community to collect monthly water samples in their local watersheds. As of 2024, we sample at over 400 sites on ~150 rivers in the US; analyzing them for nitrate, ammonium, phosphate, silica, dissolved organic carbon, and total dissolved nitrogen. The resulting data is publicly available online and has now become an important source of data to examine changes over time across a range of ecoregions. Over 100 sites now have at least a year of data, helping establish a baseline for many rivers. The project focuses on communicating key findings back to community scientists, providing them with data and information to support healthy aquatic ecosystems. To contextualize these results, we rely on national monitoring datasets, including USGS gauging stations and long-term monitoring data, EPA ecoregions, and the National Healthy Rivers and Streams Assessment data to investigate broad trends. Here, we present preliminary results from several US ecoregions, exploring potential use cases where long-term water quality data can enhance understanding for managing fish habitat, post-wildfire recovery, and climate change impacts. As we extend our dataset, we aim to continue providing regular reports to community scientists and to connect our data with existing monitoring datasets and research efforts.

Andrea Norton (Primary Presenter/Author), Woodwell Climate Research Center, anorton@woodwellclimate.org;

Allie Cunningham (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Woodwell Climate Research Center, acunningham@woodwellclimate.org;

Max Holmes (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Woodwell Climate Research Center, mholmes@woodwellclimate.org;

Abra Atwood (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Woodwell Climate Research Center, aatwood@woodwellclimate.org;

Marcia Macedo (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Woodwell Climate Research Center, mmacedo@woodwellclimate.org;

11:15 - 11:30 | Salon 10 | MULTIMETRIC BENTHIC MACROINVERTEBRATE INDICES FOR RIVER HEALTH MONITORING IN QUÉBEC, CANADA

6/06/2024  |   11:15 - 11:30   |  Salon 10

Multimetric benthic macroinvertebrate indices for river health monitoring in Québec, Canada Reporting on the health of river ecosystems involves evaluating various parameters, including physicochemical water quality, physical habitat quality, and biological communities. While physicochemical parameters are valuable for assessing immediate use impairments like bathing and drinking water, examining biological components such as the structure of benthic macroinvertebrate community can provide insights into the longer-term and synergistic effects of diverse physical and chemical disturbances on river ecosystems. The province of Québec, Canada, has developed two multimetric indices based on river benthic macroinvertebrate communities: one for coarse substrate and one for soft substrate. Each index comprises six metrics, including taxonomic composition, taxonomic richness, and pollution tolerance variables. Results are categorised into 5 (coarse substrate) or 4 (soft substrate) classes, ranging from very poor to very good , with thresholds identifying whether “good ecological status” is attained. These results, characterised by their simplicity and interpretability, are used in the province’s decision-making processes. For instance, they revealed that communities found in watersheds with at least 40 % agriculture rarely attain good status. They also serve as valuable tools to assess environmental recovery after significant incidents, such as the oil spill following the railway incident in Lac-Mégantic, Québec.

Caroline Anderson (Primary Presenter/Author), Ministère de l'Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs, caroline.anderson@environnement.gouv.qc.ca;

Lyne Pelletier (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Ministère de l'Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs, Lyne.Pelletier@environnement.gouv.qc.ca;

11:30 - 11:45 | Salon 10 | BIOASSESSMENT OF THE HIMALAYAN RIVERINE ECOSYSTEM USING MULTIPLE ORGANISMS: MAKING A BEGINNING IN THE INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT

6/06/2024  |   11:30 - 11:45   |  Salon 10

BIOASSESSMENT OF THE HIMALAYAN RIVERINE ECOSYSTEM USING MULTIPLE ORGANISMS: MAKING A BEGINNING IN THE INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT There is no doubt that rivers provide incredible ecosystem services to mankind, as evidenced by the expansion of civilization near these water bodies. In the past few decades, anthropogenic pressure has been identified as the major threat to these ecosystems and water quality. As a result, identifying the health of riverine ecosystems is critical for proper management and conservation. Biological monitoring has been claimed to be a more cost-effective approach than standard chemical assessment and to provide the most comprehensive view of aquatic ecosystem health. The European Water Framework Directives (WFD) have made regular monitoring of water bodies using multiple organism mandatory for the determination of health of water bodies. As far as India is concerned biological assessment marks its beginning in the latter half of the recent decade with benthic macroinvertebrates as target organisms. With reference to the WFD, current work highlights the importance of multiple organisms approach using a major primary producer community represented by benthic diatoms, the consumer community by benthic macroinvertebrates and fish considering the work which has been carried out in the serially impounded Himalayan River Bhagirathi for hydropower. The study encourages more studies to be carried out in this prospect on the Himalayan rivers for the comprehensive view of health of these aquatic ecosystems.

SANDEEP KUMAR (Primary Presenter/Author), Central University of Himachal Pradesh , India, sandeepkgu@gmail.com;

11:45 - 12:00 | Salon 10 | ASSESSING DIATOM PHOSPHORUS OPTIMA VARIABILITY IN THE GREATER EVERGLADES: EXPLORING TRADITIONAL AND INNOVATIVE WEIGHTED AVERAGING METHODS

6/06/2024  |   11:45 - 12:00   |  Salon 10

Assessing diatom phosphorus optima variability in the Greater Everglades: exploring traditional and innovative weighted averaging methods Abundance-weighted averaging is a common method for estimating taxon preferences (optima) for environmental drivers like phosphorus (P). However, optima estimates are influenced by sample distribution across the environmental gradient, which is typically non-uniform in observational datasets. We introduce a subsampling method ensuring uniform sample distribution along gradients and apply this method to compare diatom P optima between two similar ecosystems: the Everglades Protection Areas (EPA) and Big Cypress National Preserve (BICY) in South Florida. Diatom taxa optima were estimated for both wetlands using weighted averaging of untransformed and log-transformed total phosphorus (TP) concentrations of benthic algal (periphyton) mats. We compared these estimates to those from a random subset of samples, ensuring uniform distribution of mat TP values (both untransformed and log-transformed). Diatom assemblages were similar between BICY and EPA, but BICY had more samples with elevated mat TP concentrations, resulting in more taxa with high mat TP optima. Weighted averaged mat TP optima of BICY and EPA taxa were positively correlated across all four dataset types with the subsampled datasets exhibiting higher correlations (subsampled, log-transformed: p < 0.001; R2 = 0.65; subsampled, untransformed: p = 0.001; R2 = 0.35) than the original datasets (original, log-transformed: p < 0.001; R2 = 0.48; original, untransformed: p = 0.003; R2 = 0.31). These findings suggest diatom environmental preferences may be more reliable across regional scales than previously suggested, supporting the application of models developed in one region to nearby regions if environmental gradient lengths are equalized and data distribution along gradients is uniform.

Kelsey Solomon (Primary Presenter/Author), Florida International University, ksolomon@fiu.edu;

Jan Stevenson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Michigan State University, rjstev@cns.msu.edu;

Donatto Surratt (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), National Park Service, donatto_surratt@nps.gov;

Kevin Whelan (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), National Park Service, Kevin_R_Whelan@nps.gov;

Franco Tobias (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Florida International University, tobiasf@fiu.edu;

Evelyn Gaiser (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Florida International University, gaisere@fiu.edu;