Macroinvertebrates were used to assess the impact of urbanization on stream quality across a gradient of watershed imperviousness in 43 southeastern Wisconsin streams. The percentage of watershed connected imperviousness was chosen as the urbanization indicator to examine impact of urban land uses on macroinvertebrate communities. Most urban land uses were negatively correlated with the Shannon diversity index, percent of pollution intolerant Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera individuals, and generic richness. Nonurban land uses were positively correlated with these same metrics. The Hilsenhoff biotic index indicated that stream quality declined with increased urbanization. Functional feeding group metrics varied across a gradient of urbanization, suggesting changes in stream quality. Proportions of collectors and gatherers increased, while proportions of filterers, scrapers, and shredders decreased with increased watershed imperviousness. This study demonstrated that urbanization severely degraded stream macroinvertebrate communities, hence stream quality. Good stream quality existed where imperviousness was less than 8 percent, but less favorable assessments were inevitable where imperviousness exceeded 12 to 20 percent. Levels of imperviousness between 8 and 12 percent represented a threshold where minor increases in urbanization were associated with sharp declines in stream quality.
Additional publication details
Impacts of urban landuse on macroinvertebrate communities in southeastern Wisconsin streams
Larger Work Title:
Journal of the American Water Resources Association