Quantifying Physical Habitat in Streams
Quantifying Physical Habitat in Wadeable Streams
Kaufmann, P.R, P. Levine, E.G. Robison, C. Seeliger, and D.V. Peck.
1999. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
Washington, D.C. EPA/620/R-99/003
We describe concepts, rationale, and analytical procedures for characterizing physical habitat in wadeable streams based on raw data generated from methods similar or equal to those of Kaufmann and Robison (1998) that are used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in its Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP). We provide guidance for calculating measures or indices of stream size and gradient, sinuosity, substrate size and stability, habitat complexity and cover, woody debris size and abundance, residual pool dimensions and frequency, riparian vegetation cover and structure, anthropogenic disturbances, and channel-riparian interaction. The EMAP surveys locate sample reaches using a randomized, systematic design. Within sample reaches, the EMAP field approach also employs a randomized, systematic design to systematically locate and space habitat observations on stream reaches, each of which have a length 40 times their lowflow wetted width. Two-person crews typically complete EMAP habitat measurements in 1.5 to 3.5 hours of field time. While this time commitment is greater than that required for more qualitative methods, these more quantitative methods are more repeatable (more precise). For EMAP field crews in which four people collect a variety of physical, chemical, and biological information, this level of effort is about 25% to 33% of that spent on biological measures.