Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM
THE OHIO UNIVERSITY EPA STAR GRANT: REFINED BIOLOGICAL CLASSIFICATION AND STRESSOR IDENTIFICATION IN THE WESTERN ALLEGHENY PLATEAU ECOREGION
The use of biological assessments using fish, macroinvertebrates and algae and the derivation of biocriteria as numeric goals for stream and river health has advanced significantly in the past 10-20 years. Accurate classification of natural features that can influence aquatic biota is important for deriving meaningful biological goals for these waters. Recognizing the importance of accurate classification for the best use of biological assessments, U.S. EPA funded, through its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, a series of grants in different regions of the U.S., focused on innovative ways to refine classification of aquatic assemblages to support efficient monitoring strategies and to diagnose the causes of biological impairment. Ohio University's effort is focused on the Western Allegheny Plateau ecoregion. We have been using Ohio's extensive existing biological (fish and macroinvertebrates) and newly collected algal data to explore the strength of geographically-dependent constructs (e.g., Level IV ecoregions) and geographically independent variables (e.g., habitat, water chemistry, land use, modeled hydrological variables, and geomorphic variables including a Rapid Geomorphic Assessment, RGA). Geomorphology data is a key to understanding the mechanisms of biotic responses to abiotic parameters such as physical habitat characteristics. This paper will lay the conceptual framework on the importance and application of classification and stressor identification efforts to Clean Water Act biological integrity goals.