Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Ecological Exposure Research

Biological Methods and Manual Development

EPA ecological exposure scientists conduct research to develop and evaluate analytical methods for the identification, enumeration and evaluation of aquatic organisms exposed to environmental stressors and to correlate exposures with effects on chemical and biological indicators. Environmental measurements are required to determine the quality of ambient waters and the character of environmental stressors. Environmental stressors can include chemical pollutants, microbes and pathogens, physical agents such as land use, and processes such as alteration of wildlife habitat.

EPA’s ecological exposure scientists serve as the agency's scientific lead for the following stream and source monitoring indicators: fish, macroinvertebrates, periphyton, zooplankton, functional ecosystem indicators, water and sediment toxicity, and fish tissue contaminants. As part of their indicator lead responsibilities, the researchers prepare and update field and laboratory protocol and methods manuals for these indicators. They also provide technical assistance to regions and states on the implementation and interpretation of these manuals. The current manuals and protocols prepared by EPA’s ecological exposure scientists are listed below.

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, available as a free download, to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more about PDF, and for a link to the free Acrobat Reader.

Field Methods

Field Operations Manual for Assessing the Hydrologic Permanence and Ecological Condition of Headwater Streams. The purposes of this manual are to: 1) document procedures developed and used by EPA’s Ecological Exposure Research Division for the assessment of physical and biological characteristics of headwater streams; and 2) provide a catalog of procedures to other groups interested in headwater stream assessment.

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program: Great River Ecosystems, Field Operations Manual. - EPA/620/R-06/002. This manual describes procedures for collecting samples and field measurements for biotic assemblages and abiotic characteristics of the Great Rivers of the Central Basin of the United States: the Missouri, Upper Mississippi, and Ohio Rivers. In addition to the technical and logistic aspects of field operations, this manual emphasizes health and safety considerations, data quality assurance (QA), and information management (IM). Not included in this manual are laboratory protocols, sample-design details, or protocols for data analysis or interpretation.

Logistics of Ecological Sampling on Large Rivers, EPA/600/R-01/109, April, 2001 (PDF, 78 pp., 1.4 MB)

Comparisons of Boating and Wading Methods Used to Assess the Status of Flowing Waters. EPA/600/R-01/108, April, 2001 (PDF, 145 pp., 1.3 MB)

Fish Field and Laboratory Methods for Evaluating the Biological Integrity of Surface Water. EPA/600/R-92/111. March, 1993.

Macroinvertebrate Field and Laboratory Methods for Evaluating the Biological Integrity of Surface Waters. EPA/600/4-90/030. November, 1990.

Toxicity and Contaminant Methods

A Compendium of Chemical, Physical and Biological Methods for Assessing and Monitoring the Remediation of Contaminated Sediment Sites. EPA/600/R-03/108, April, 2004 (PDF, 291 pp., 2.5 MB) (full document)

EPA/600/R-03/108, April, 2004, Table of Contents (PDF, 10 pp., 350 KB) - Table of Contents links to individual files for each fact sheet

A Survey of Fish Contamination in Small Wadeable Streams in the Mid-Atlantic Region. EPA/600/R-01/107. April, 2001 (PDF, 110 pp., 1.6 MB)

Stressor Identification Guidance Document. EPA 822-B-00-025. March, 2001.

Short-term Methods for Estimating the Chronic Toxicity of Effluents and Receiving Waters to West Coast Marine and Estuarine Organisms. EPA/600/R-95/136. August, 1995.

Tropical Collector Urchin, Tripneustes gratilla, Fertilization Test Method

Short-term Methods for Estimating the Chronic Toxicity of Effluents and Receiving Water to Freshwater Organisms. EPA/600/4-91/002. July, 1994.

Short-term Methods for Estimating the Chronic Toxicity of Effluents and Receiving Water to Marine and Estuarine Organisms. EPA/600/4-91/003. July, 1994.

Methods for Measuring the Acute Toxicity of Effluents and Receiving Waters to Freshwater and Marine Organisms. EPA/600/4-90/027F. August, 1993.

Jump to main content.