Importance of understanding landscape biases in USGS gage locations: Implications and solutions for managers

Fisheries
By: , and 

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Abstract

Flow and water temperature are fundamental properties of stream ecosystems upon which many freshwater resource management decisions are based. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gages are the most important source of streamflow and water temperature data available nationwide, but the degree to which gages represent landscape attributes of the larger population of streams has not been thoroughly evaluated. We identified substantial biases for seven landscape attributes in one or more regions across the conterminous United States. Streams with small watersheds (<10 km2) and at high elevations were often underrepresented, and biases were greater for water temperature gages and in arid regions. Biases can fundamentally alter management decisions and at a minimum this potential for error must be acknowledged accurately and transparently. We highlight three strategies that seek to reduce bias or limit errors arising from bias and illustrate how one strategy, supplementing USGS data, can greatly reduce bias.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Importance of understanding landscape biases in USGS gage locations: Implications and solutions for managers
Series title Fisheries
DOI 10.1080/03632415.2014.891503
Volume 39
Issue 4
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 9 p.
First page 155
Last page 163
Country United States