Condition bioindicators to be developed for ephemeral streams

Posted July 28, 2017

SCCWRP and its partners are launching a three-year project to develop bioindicators for ephemeral streams in California and Arizona, following the successful completion of a proof-of-concept study showing that these condition assessment tools would be feasible to build.

The project’s goal is to develop a quantitative scoring tool for ephemeral streams modeled after the California Stream Condition Index, which was co-developed by SCCWRP for use in perennial streams. Ephemeral streams, or streams that run dry for much of the year, make up about 60% of all streams in Southern California, but existing stream bioindicators are not appropriate for generating accurate assessments for the driest among these streams.

Assessment tools for ephemeral streams are expected to become increasingly valuable to water-quality managers as more streams run dry in response to climate change, drought, and increased water conservation and reuse.

The project will focus on using terrestrial arthropods and bryophytes (e.g., mosses), as well as the condition of riparian habitat, to assess the streams’ ecological health.

SCCWRP will train its partners in California and Arizona to implement sampling protocols. The protocols were developed during a feasibility study conducted last year at about 30 sites in the San Diego area representing a range of natural gradients and stress levels.

The first round of sampling for the study will take place in summer 2018.

For more information and to become a project participant, contact Dr. Raphael Mazor.

More news related to: Bioassessment, Indices of Biotic Integrity