Widespread and increasing urbanization has resulted in the need to assess, monitor, and understand its effects on stream water quality. Identifying relations between stream ecological condition and urban intensity indicators such as impervious surface provides important, but insufficient information to effectively address planning and management needs in such areas. In this study we investigate those specific landscape metrics which are functionally linked to indicators of stream ecological condition, and in particular, identify those characteristics that exacerbate or mitigate changes in ecological condition over and above impervious surface. The approach used addresses challenges associated with redundancy of landscape metrics, and links landscape pattern and composition to an indicator of stream ecological condition across a broad area of the eastern United States. Macroinvertebrate samples were collected during 2000-2001 from forty-two sites in the Delaware River Basin, and landscape data of high spatial and thematic resolution were obtained from photointerpretation of 1999 imagery. An ordination-derived 'biotic score' was positively correlated with assemblage tolerance, and with urban-related chemical characteristics such as chloride concentration and an index of potential pesticide toxicity. Impervious surface explained 56% of the variation in biotic score, but the variation explained increased to as high as 83% with the incorporation of a second land use, cover, or configuration metric at catchment or riparian scales. These include land use class-specific cover metrics such as percent of urban land with tree cover, forest fragmentation metrics such as aggregation index, riparian metrics such as percent tree cover, and metrics related to urban aggregation. Study results indicate that these metrics will be important to monitor in urbanizing areas in addition to impervious surface. ?? 2010 US Government.
Additional publication details
Landscape characteristics affecting streams in urbanizing regions of the Delaware River Basin (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, U.S.)