Bioassessment of stream ecosystems enduring a decade of simulated degradation: Lessons for the real world

Robert C. Bailey, Garry Scrimgeour, David Coté, Dan Kehler, Simon Linke, Yong Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects on benthic macroinvertebrate communities of simulated degradation of streams enabled evaluation of the effects of starting condition, type of degradation, and biota descriptor on the type 1 and type 2 error rates of bioassessment. Benthic macroinvertebrate communities from five reference streams in the Fraser River basin (British Columbia, Canada) were used as the starting conditions of replicated simulations of the effects of suspended sediments in three temporal patterns (none, one-time severe, constant moderate). The dynamics of the simulated stream communities and the type 1 and type 2 errors associated with bioassessments, as described by (i) taxon richness, (ii) EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera) richness, (iii) proportion of EPT individuals in the community, (iv) difference in composition from the median reference community (MCDist), (v) Simpson's diversity, and (vi) Simpson's equitability, depended on the combination of starting condition, simpact treatment, and the biota descriptor. To reduce type 1 and type 2 errors in bioassessments using the reference condition approach, bioassessment programs should include (i) matching of test and expected reference communities and refinement of the definition of reference condition and (ii) several biota descriptors that include measures of richness, tolerance, and community composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)784-796
Number of pages13
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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