Stream classification system based on susceptibility to algal growth in response to nutrients

Lian Shin Lin, Momcilo Markus, Amy Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We developed a stream classification system that is based on stream's susceptibility to algal growth using a two-step approach. The model portrays algal biomass as a result of stream's response to nutrient concentrations and the response is governed by various stream factors. In the first step, a nutrient-chlorophyll a relationship was developed to characterize nutrient's effects on algal biomass. Residuals of the relationship were attributed to stream's susceptibility to algal growth in response to nutrients and referred to as "observed" susceptibility. In the second step, conditions of other contributing factors were used to explain the variation in the residuals and the developed relationship was used to generate "predicted" susceptibility. Existing data compiled from various monitoring projects of Illinois streams and rivers were used to illustrate the approach. Streams were classified into three (high, medium, and low) categories based on their observed and predicted susceptibility values, respectively. With the available data, the model showed a 40-50% success rate for classifying the streams based on three observed and predicted susceptibility categories. Model entropy also was calculated for selecting the best model. The results show the important role of both nutrients and other contributing factors in explaining the variation of algal biomass. The study also suggests ways to fine tune the model and improve its accuracy, which would make the presented model a more viable tool for stream classification for establishing nutrient criteria to prevent surface streams from eutrophication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)692-697
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2007


  • Classification
  • Eutrophication
  • Nutrients
  • Streams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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