The Watershed Institute

Watershed Environments and Ecology Lab Projects

Developing assessment tools for dry streams

The goal of these projects is to develop the first assessment tools applicable to non-perennial streams, allowing the ecological health of these important parts of the watershed to be monitored. Over the past two years, my students and I have demonstrated the feasibility of using terrestrial arthropods and bryophytes as biological indicators in the San Diego region and developed metrics that are sensitive to changes in these assemblages caused by human activity. We are now also determining if these methods can be used to assess the effects of oil and gas development in the central valley and development throughout California and Arizona. My students and I have also trained 40 people from natural resource agencies from California and Arizona on our methods.

Project: Biological indicators for assessment of intermittent and ephemeral rivers during dry phase

Picture of lab member Matt Robinson holding field measurement equipment

Project: Index development for episodic streams

Emma Haines assessing her water loggers in the field

Project: Bioassessment tools for California and Arizona intermittent streams and ephemeral rivers

Picture of training the Arizona DEQ

Project: California oil spill study and evaluation program dry stream assessment

Savannah and Megan standing in dry stream bed collection data.

Project: Flow Duration

The objective of this project is to develop a rapid, field-based method for determining flow duration status of streams in the Arid Southwest and Western Mountains. This tool will support regulatory decisions that differ if a stream is perennial, intermittent, or ephemeral. The Arid Southwest includes CA, NV, AZ, NM, UT, WY, and CO and Western Mountain states include these plus OR, WA, ID, and MT. Development will be done by : 1) identifying 90-140 sites in the Arid Southwest and 20-40 sites in the Western Mountains where flow duration is known with high confidence; 2) identifying appropriate measurement methods that support accuracy, standardization, and objectivity, while also balancing the need for simplicity and ease of implementation in the field, and incorporate these into a field protocol/SOP; 3) applying the field protocol to the sites identified in task 1 during the dry season and re-measuring 25% of sites during the wet season; and 4) support the development of an assessment tool to classify streams based on all or a subset of indicators measured in Task 3 and support at least one case study.