Freshwater Stream Invertebrates: Response to Water Quality Impairment and Physical Habitat Alteration

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Courtesy of Weston Solutions, Inc

Summary

Results of three large-scale regional benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring programs from Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties were analyzed. Benthic community quality was quantified using a southern California IBI and was compared to the physical habitat quality scores of each monitoring reach. The purpose of the comparison was to determine if physical habitat quality was a limiting factor in the colonization potential of benthic macroinvertebrates. Over the coastal southern California region, nearly all monitoring sites receiving urban runoff had IBI scores rated Poor and Very Poor. While most sites with very poor physical habitat quality had poor quality macroinvertebrate assemblages, many sites that had very good physical habitat quality also had poor quality macroinvertebrate assemblages.

Regression analysis indicated that sites receiving substantial urban runoff showed almost no correlation between habitat quality and benthic macroinvertebrate community quality. Analysis of estimated amount of urbanization in watersheds above the monitoring sites indicated that the area of urbanization likely had a much greater effect on benthic macroinvertebrate community quality. Future quantification of the area of urbanization, impervious surfaces, and land use types and their relationship to benthic macroinvertebrate community quality is necessary to confirm this premise.

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