Using Macroinvertebrate Communities to Ascertain the Effects of Land Use in Two Northeast Georgia Streams
Conner, Emily D.
Calcagni, Sue K.
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Using Macroinvertebrate Communities to Ascertain the Effects of Land Use in Two Northeast Georgia Streams The Soque River is listed under the Clean Water Act as an impaired waterway, yet there have been no finalized studies to date characterizing the impact of such impairments on the biological communities within the Soque. This study compared aquatic macroinvertebrate communities between Camp Creek (CC), an “impaired” tributary within the Soque River watershed, and the Middle Fork of the Broad River (MFBR), a “reference” stream in national forest lands. We hypothesized that CC would exhibit an altered community composition consistent with a disturbed watershed as compared to MFBR, which is not developed. Three replicate samples, including aquatic macroinvertebrates, substrate, and standard water chemistry parameters, were collected at each site using the EPA’s Rapid Bioassessment Protocol. Results showed that CC contained significantly more silt and clay and lower dissolved oxygen than MFBR. With respect to macroinvertebrates, CC contained significantly greater numbers of tolerant families and significantly fewer intolerant families. This supported the hypothesis that CC would exhibit community characteristics associated with disturbance. Additionally, we compared our methodology to conventional screening methods in the same ecoregion. The comparison of the two methods suggests that our methodology provides equivalent information regarding stream condition without the need to key to genus or species taxonomic levels and simultaneously allows for quantitative statistical analysis of the data.