By S. Alex Covert
In cooperation with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) collected data on fish from 10 stream sites in 1996 and 3 stream sites in 1997 as part of a comparative study of fish community assessment methods. The sites sampled represent a wide range of basin sizes (ranging from 132–6,330 square kilometers) and surrounding land-use types (urban, agricultural, and mixed). Each agency used its own fish-sampling protocol. Using the Index of Biotic Integrity and Modified Index of Well-Being, differences between data sets were tested for significance by means of the Wilcoxon signed-ranks test (a = 0.05). Results showed that the median of Index of Biotic Integrity differences between data sets was not significantly different from zero (p = 0.2521); however, the same statistical test showed the median differences in the Modified Index of Well-Being scores to be significantly different from zero (p = 0.0158). The differences observed in the Index of Biotic Integrity scores are likely due to natural variability, increased variability at sites with degraded water quality, differences in sampling methods, and low-end adjustments in the Index of Biotic Integrity calculation when fewer than 50 fish were collected. The Modified Index of Well-Being scores calculated by OEPA were significantly higher than those calculated by the USGS. This finding was attributed to the comparatively large numbers and biomass of fish collected by the OEPA. By combining the two indices and viewing them in terms of the percentage attainment of Ohio Warmwater Habitat criteria, the two agencies’ data seemed comparable, although the Index of Biotic Integrity scores were more similar than the Modified Index of Well-Being scores.
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