Encompassing the northern glaciated section of the Midwest United States, the Northern Lakes and Forests Ecoregion is characterized by mixed conifer and deciduous forests and wetlands. Sites were randomly selected in the ecoregion using the Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program designed to develop an index of biotic integrity for wadeable streams. Macroinvertebrates were sampled during the fall of 1998 and 1999 using a multi-habitat, composite-sample method. Two hundred forty-six invertebrate taxa in 97 families were collected from 94 sites. Ten of 42 candidate metrics satisfied metric selection criteria, including six structural metrics (number of Ephemeroptera taxa, number of Diptera taxa, richness, Shannon-Wiener diversity, percent Trichoptera abundance, and percent Crustacea and Mollusca abundance), two functional metrics (number of Filterer taxa and number of Scraper taxa), and two conditional metrics (number of Ephemeroptera, Trichoptera, and Plecoptera taxa and Hilsenhoff Biotic Index). These metrics were used to develop a Benthic Community Index to assess the biological integrity of wadeable streams in the ecoregion. Index values ranged from 10 to 50, and scores from impaired sites were significantly different than non-impaired sites (P<0.001). Index values were divided into three narrative interpretations of biological integrity (poor, fair, and good). After further testing, the index may provide a useful biological assessment tool for resource managers in the ecoregion.
Additional publication details
A Benthic Community Index for streams in the Northern Lakes and Forests Ecoregion