Aquatics Monitoring

  • Aquatic Invertebrates
  • Elemental Contaminants
  • Fish Communities
  • Spring Communities
Aquatic Invertebrates

invertebratesNon-point source pollution including urban and agricultural run off, treated sewage and changes in hydrology threaten water quality and quantity in streams and springs in network parks. Concerns over declining surface water quality have led to the development of various biomonitoring techniques to assess stream water quality in those systems.

Aquatic benthic invertebrates are a diverse group of relatively long-lived sedentary species that often react strongly and predictably to human disturbance making them a cost-effective and conservative tool to monitor stream water quality.  Biomonitoring using aquatic invertebrates allows for the assessment of stream water quality along a gradient of conditions from unimpaired (pristine) to severely impacted (heavily polluted and/or disturbed).  As such, benthic invertebrates are among the most common group of organisms used to assess water quality in streams worldwide. The National Park Service has implemented monitoring of aquatic invertebrates to help track trends in and identify factors affecting stream water quality.

Invertebrate monitoring of some small prairie streams in the Prairie Cluster parks has been conducted since 1988.  Additionally, protocols have been developed for invertebrate monitoring in the mainstem river and tributaries at Buffalo National River and mainstem river and tributaries and large volume springs at Ozark Scenic Riverways.

Monitoring Questions and Approach
  1. What are the status and trends of invertebrate species diversity, abundance and community metrics?
    • Annual sampling at fixed sites in Network streams and springs is conducted to track the population trends of aquatic invertebrate species through time.
  2. What do changes in the invertebrate community structure indicate about water quality in the stream?
    • Analysis of species composition, species diversity, tolerance indices, and family abundance ratios and other metrics serve as a sound estimator of water quality condition in the system.
  3. What is the range of habitat condition within each stream and how is habitat changing over time?
    • Habitat data is collected in conjunction with annual invertebrate sampling so that species abundance, locations, and community structure can be correlated with various habitat parameters and characteristics.
  4. Can changes in population status or habitat quality be correlated with development and management practices within the watershed?
    • Management actions that affect the stream habitat structure and water quality can sometimes be correlated with community structure, habitat data, and trends in water quality.
Reports
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
2005 Aquatic Report
1989-2002 Status Report
 
Effigy Mounds National Monument
Resource Brief | Bowles D. E., H. R. Dodd, and J. A. Luraas. 2010. Aquatic invertebrate monitoring at Effigy Mounds National Monument, 2008. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/HTLN/NRDS—2010/071. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
 
Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
Resource Brief | Bowles D. E., H. R. Dodd, and J. A. Luraas. 2010. Aquatic invertebrate monitoring at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, 2008. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/HTLN/NRDS— 2010/053. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
 
Homestead National Monument of America     
Resource Brief | Bowles, D. E., and M. K. Clark. 2012. Aquatic invertebrate monitoring at Homestead National Monument of America: 1996-2011 trend report. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/HTLN/NRTR—2012/612. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
 
Resource Brief | Bowles, D. E. 2009. Aquatic invertebrate monitoring at Homestead National Monument of America: 2005-2007 trend report. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/HTLN/NRTR—2009/242. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
2005 Aquatic Report
1989-2002 Summary Report
 
Hot Springs National Park
Resource Brief | Luraas, J. A., and D. E. Bowles. 2012. Aquatic invertebrate Monitoring at Hot Springs National Park, 2009. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/HTLN/NRDS—2012/241. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
 
George Washington Carver National Monument
Resource Brief | Bowles, D. E. 2009. Aquatic invertebrate monitoring at George Washington Carver National Monument, 2005-2007 Report. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/HTLN/NRTR—2009/243. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
 
Pea Ridge National Military Park
Resource Brief | Hinsey, J. A. and D. E. Bowles. 2012. Aquatic invertebrate monitoring at Pea Ridge National Military Park, 2009-2010. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/HTLN/NRDS—2012/240. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
 
Pipestone National Monument      
Resource Brief | Bowles, D. E. 2009. Aquatic invertebrate monitoring at Pipestone National Monument: 2005-2007 trend report. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/HTLN/NRTR—2009/241. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
2005 Aquatic Report
1989-2002 Summary Report
 
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve  
Resource Brief | Cribbs J. Tyler and D. E. Bowles. 2012. Aquatic invertebrate monitoring at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, 2009 status report. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/HTLN/NRDS—2012/268. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
 
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield  
Resource Brief | Bowles D. E. 2010. Aquatic invertebrate monitoring at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield: 2005-2007 trend report. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/HTLN/NRTR—2010/287. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
2005 Aquatic Report
1989-2002 Summary Report
References
  • McDonald, T. 2004. Ecological Survey Recommendations for the Buffalo National River and Ozark National Scenic Riverways Parks. West, Inc., Cheyenne, WY. (PDF)
  • Boyle, Terence P. et al. Manual for Implementation and Development of Aquatic Resource Inventory and Monitoring Methodology in Prairie Parks. (PDF)
Contact

David Bowles
Aquatic Resources Monitoring Leader (417-836-4702)

 

 

Elemental Contaminants

Ambient concentrations of elemental metals (e.g., cadmium, cobalt, lead, nickel, lead, zinc) from “natural” sources have been augmented by releases from mining and ore processing activities in areas adjacent to some national parks within the Heartland Network (HTLN).  Although lead does not accumulate to high concentrations in organisms, effects including biochemical responses to lead in fish and altered benthic fish and invertebrate community composition have been associated with the release of metals from lead belts (for example Dwyer and others, 1988; Schmitt and others, 1984, 1987, 1993; Allert and others, 2004). 

The National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998 requires park managers to know the condition of and conserve the natural resources within their parks. Accordingly, managers need to define and track concentrations of contaminant metals and possibly other potentially toxic elemental contaminants within the park, for both human health and ecological concerns. These needs may become more acute if additional economically significant lead-zinc deposits are located and exploited. To provide park managers with long-term data on elemental metal concentrations, HTLN implemented a monitoring protocol (developed by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with HTLN) at Ozark National Scenic Riverways and Buffalo National River. Data collection in other parks located within HTLN may be added in the future.

Monitoring Questions and Approach

  1. What are the current levels of lead and other metals in the rivers of the park?
  2. Are metals concentrations increasing?
  3. Are river biota exposed to potentially toxic concentrations of lead or other elemental contaminants?.
  4. Are individuals and populations of metal-sensitive river biota potentially being affected by metals exposure
Reports

Ozark National Scenic Riverways

References
  • Allert, A.L., J.F. Fairchild, J.M. Besser, C.J. Schmitt, B.C. Poulton, and W.G. Brumbaugh. 2004. Ecological effects of lead mining in streams of the Missouri Ozarks. Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 4th World Congress, November 11-15, Portland, OR (poster).
  • Brumbaugh, W.G., T.W. May, J.M. Besser, A.L. Allert, and C.J. Schmitt. 2007. Assessment of elemental concentrtions in streams of the New Lead Belt in Southeastern Missouri, 2002-02. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5057. 57 pp. PDF
  • Dwyer, F.J., C.J. Schmitt, S.E. Finger, and P.M. Mehrle. 1988. Biochemical changes in longear sunfish, Lepomis megalotis, associated with lead, cadmium and zinc from mine tailings. Journal of Fish Biology 33: 307-317.
  • Schmitt, C.J, F.J. Dwyer, and S.E. Finger. 1984. Erythrocyte δ‑aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALA‑D) activity as an indicator of Pb and Zn bioavailability in a river contaminated by mine tailings. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 41: 1030‑1040.
  • Schmitt, C.J., S.E. Finger, T.W. May, and M.S. Kaiser. 1987. Bioavailability of lead and cadmium from mine tailings to the pocketbook mussel (Lampsilis ventricosa). In Neves, RJ, ed., Proceedings of the Workshop on Die-offs of Freshwater Mussels in the United States, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee, Rock Island, IL, p. 115-142.
  • Schmitt, C.J., M.L. Wildhaber, J.B. Hunn, T. Nash, M.N. Tieger, and B.L. Steadman. 1993. Biomonitoring of lead-contaminated Missouri streams with and assay for erythrocyte δ-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALA-D) activity in fish blood.  Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 25: 464-475.
Contact

David Bowles
Aquatic Resources Monitoring Leader (417-836-4702)

 

 

Fish Communities

fish samplingNon-point or diffuse sources of pollution are the main factor affecting aquatic resources in the Midwest region of the U.S. (USEPA 1990). Runoff from agricultural/urban areas, discharge from sewage treatment facilities, as well as other human disturbances can cause excessive inputs of sediment, nutrients, and pesticides in streams or rivers.

Historically, water chemistry data has been used to detect changes or trends in stream quality. However, biomonitoring (use of living organisms to assess water quality) has become a useful and vital tool for stream assessments by providing a more integrated picture of past water quality and habitat conditions. Fish assemblages are an important component of stream/river systems with each species carrying out specific roles in the aquatic community.  Assessment of entire fish communities provides information on ecosystem integrity and function. Because land use and management of adjacent lands can have a substantial impact on the quality of streams and rivers in our national parks, the Heartland I&M and Prairie Cluster Prototype Programs began an aquatic monitoring program to detect trends in water quality, physical habitat, and fish assemblage integrity in prairie parks and large river parks.

Monitoring Questions and Approach
  1. Northern HogsuckerWhat is the status and long-term trends of fish assemblages in small stream parks and large river parks?
    • Annual or rotational fish sampling at these parks to obtain data on number of species present, relative abundance of species, and overall health of the community. Fish are collected with seines in small stream parks and by electrofishing techniques in large river parks.
  2. What is the condition and trends in aquatic habitat in both small stream parks and large river parks?
    • Collection of water quality and physical habitat data in conjunction with fish sampling. Temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, and turbidity are measured at each sample site. Point-transect habitat data is collected to obtain information on macrohabitat.
  3. Within small stream parks containing the endangered Topeka Shiner (Notropis topeka), what is the status and long-term trends of this species?
    • Annual fish sampling to determine abundance and trends of this species through time. Habitat sampling to determine the type and condition of habitat for this species.
  4. Can changes in fish assemblage status or habitat quality be correlated with management regimes?
    • Record management actions and land use changes for correlation with fish assemblage and habitat data.
Reports
spring
Buffalo National River      Resource Brief  
Dodd, H.R. 2009. Fish community monitoring at Buffalo National River: 2006-2007 status report. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/HTLN/NRTR-2009/185. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.  
   
Topeka shiner T&E reports (NPS Only)      Resource Brief  
   
George Washington Carver National Monument  
Resource Brief | Dodd, H.R., D.E. Bowles, and S.K. Mueller, and M.K. Clark. 2011. Fish community monitoring at George Washington Carver: 2006-2007, 2010 status report. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/HTLN/NRDS—2011/124. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.  
   
Homestead National Monument of America
Resource Brief | Dodd, H. R. and J. T. Cribbs. 2012. Fish community monitoring at Homestead National Monument of America: 2004-2011 status report. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/HTLN/NRDS—2012/276. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
 
Hot Springs National Park
Resource Brief | Dodd, H. R. and S. K. Mueller. 2012. Fish community monitoring at Hot Springs National Park: 2009 report. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/HTLN/NRDS—2012/235. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
 
Ozark National Scenic Riverways      Resource Brief
Dodd, H.R. 2009. Fish community monitoring at Ozark National Scenic Riverways: 2005-2007 status report. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/HTLN/NRTR-2009/224. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
 
Pea Ridge National Military Park      Resource Brief
Dodd, H. R., J. A. Hinsey, and S. K. Mueller. 2011. Fish community monitoring at Pea Ridge National Military Park: 2009 report. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/HTLN/NRDS—2011/217. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
 
Pipestone National Monument     Resource Brief
Dodd, H. R., L. W. Morrison, and D. G. Peitz. 2010. Fish community monitoring at Pipestone National Monument: 2001-2008 summary report .Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/HTLN/NRTR—2010/366. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
 
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve    Resource Brief
Dodd, H. R., L. W. Morrison, and D. G. Peitz. 2010. Fish community monitoring at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve: 2001-2008 trend report. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/HTLN/NRTR—2010/325. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
 
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield    Resource Brief
Dodd, H .R., D. E. Bowles, and S. K. Mueller, and M. K. Clark. 2011. Fish community monitoring at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield: 2006-2007, 2010 status report. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/HTLN/NRDS—2011/176. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
References
  • McDonald, T. 2004. Ecological Survey Recommendations for the Buffalo National River and Ozark National Scenic Riverways Parks. West, Inc., Cheyenne, WY. (PDF)
  • USEPA.  1990.  The quality of our nation's water: a summary of the 1988 National Water Quality Inventory.  U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Report 440/490-005, Washington, D. C.   
Contact

Hope Dodd
Fisheries Biologist (417-836-3163)

 

 

Spring Communities

Blue SpringsThe extensive karst topography (i.e., a geologic formation of irregular limestone deposits marked by sinks, springs, and caves) surrounding Ozark National Scenic Riverways (OZAR) is conducive to the formation of springs. Over 300 springs are located at OZAR. Although most of these springs are relatively small, six are considered 1st and 2nd magnitude (Meinzer, 1927). The largest (Big Spring) has a maximum recorded discharge greater than 1270 cubic ft/sec and is ranked among the five largest springs in North America. The combined flows of these springs contribute heavily to the flows of the Jacks Fork and Current rivers. Such karst topography makes these unique systems vulnerable to biological and chemical degradation due to the rapid recharge of groundwater and transport of contaminants through the soluble bedrock system of caves, springs, and sinkholes. Springs often have poorly defined recharge areas which may represent the ultimate challenge in water quality protection of these systems. Additionally, the narrow jurisdictional boundaries of OZAR place the springs at risk to disturbance, as the watersheds that contribute to groundwater sources in the park are often left unprotected.

Monitoring the six largest springs at OZAR is directed towards maintaining their ecological integrity through assessment of periodic monitoring of aquatic vegetation, invertebrates, fish communities and their associated physical habitats. Monitoring data collected from the springs will provide a baseline for assessing the potential for, or extent of, a variety of man-made and natural disturbances. This monitoring program has been designed to incorporate the spatial relationship of these biotic indicators (aquatic invertebrates and fish) with water quality and instream and riparian physical habitats.

Monitoring Questions and Approach
  1. Determine the annual status and trends in species diversity, abundance, and community metrics for vegetation, invertebrates, and fish occurring in the large springs at OZAR.
  2. Relate the community data to overall water quality and habitat condition (DeBacker et al., 2005).
References
spring
  • DeBacker, M. D., C. C. Young (ed.), P. Adams, L. Morrison, D. Peitz, G. A. Rowell, M.H. Williams, and D. Bowles. 2005. Heartland Inventory and Monitoring Network and Prairie Cluster Prototype Monitoring Program Vital Signs Monitoring Plan. National Park Service, Heartland I&M Network and Prairie Cluster Prototype Monitoring Program, Wilson´s Creek National Battlefield, Republic, MO.
  • Meinzer, O. E. 1927. Large springs in the United States: U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Supply Paper 557.
Contact

David Bowles
Aquatic Resources Monitoring Leader (417-836-4702)

 

 

 

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