A multiple watershed field test of hydrogeomorphic functional assessment of headwater streams - Variability in field measurements between independent teams

Jacob Berkowitz, Andrew F. Casper, Chris Noble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Ephemeral and intermittent headwater streams are under increasing pressure from disturbance and development. Rapid, repeatable assessment techniques are needed in order to gauge the condition of these stream systems. Several attributes of these headwater streams constrain the use of the most widely used macroinvertebrate or water quality stream assessment techniques. The hydrogeomorphic (HGM) functional assessment is a reference-based alternative technique. To evaluate this alternative, repeated assessments were conducted in eight high-gradient headwaters in West Virginia by four independent teams. Across-site and measurement variance among teams was assessed using a coefficient of variation (CV, expressed as percent). A variability of >50% CV, which suggests less repeatable results, occurred in only 13.8% of measurements, primarily associated with 2 of the 9 variables examined (snag density and substrate size). Between site measurement variance was the greatest at more highly disturbed sample locations, particularly with regard to the large woody debris, tree species richness, and channel bank erosion variables. Variables with the lowest CV were tree diameter, detrital cover, canopy cover, and channel embeddedness. Based on these results, measurements included when applying HGM approach to these streams should focus on direct measurements or directed estimates that yield a large response range across a spectrum of sites while maintaining consistent repeatability among different teams, with special attention paid to their use in highly disturbed sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1472-1475
Number of pages4
JournalEcological Indicators
Volume11
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Keywords

  • Field testing
  • HGM
  • Headwater stream
  • Hydrogeomorphic assessment
  • Rapid assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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