Ator, S.W., A.R. Olsen, A.M. Pitchford, and J.M. Denver. 2003. Application of a multipurpose unequal probability stream survey in the Mid-Atlantic coastal plain. J. Am. Water Resources Assn. 39(4):873-885. WED-02-136
A stratified, spatially balanced sample with unequal probability selection was used to design a multipurpose survey of headwater streams in the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain. Objectives for the survey include unbiased estimates of regional stream conditions, and adequate coverage of unusual but significant environmental settings to support empirical modeling of the factors affecting those conditions. The design and field application of the survey are discussed in light of these multiple objectives. A probability (random) sample of 175 first-order nontidal streams was selected for synoptic sampling of water chemistry and benthic and riparian ecology during late winter and spring 2000. Twenty-five streams were selected within each of seven hydrogeologic subregions (strata) that were delineated on the basis of physiography and surficial geology. In each subregion, unequal inclusion probabilities were used to provide an approximately even distribution of streams along a gradient of forested to developed (agricultural or urban) land in the contributing watershed. Alternate streams were also selected. Alternates were included in groups of five in each subregion when field reconnaissance demonstrated that primary streams were inaccessible or otherwise unusable. Despite the rejection and replacement of a considerable number of primary streams during reconnaissance (up to 40 percent in one subregion), the desired land use distribution was maintained within each hydrogeologic subregion without sacrificing the probabilistic design.