Climate Change Effects on Stream and River Biological Indicators: A Preliminary Analysis (Final Report)

The Clean Water Act mandates that states assess the biological, chemical, and physical condition of their aquatic resources using biological indicators that compare reference and non-reference sites to measure condition. The Office of Water developed guidance documents for establishing biocriteria in rivers and streams, lakes, estuaries, and wetlands, and is developing biocriteria for coral reefs. Climate change is projected to affect aquatic ecosystems through changes in water temperature, hydrological cycles, and degree days. This report is a preliminary analysis of how biological indicators are likely to respond to climate change, how well current sampling schemes may detect climate-driven changes, and how likely it is that these sampling schemes will continue to detect impairment. The results and recommendations are an initial step towards helping biocriteria programs modify assessment activities to account for climate change effects and ensure that management goals continue to be met. The report is intended for managers and scientists working on biological indicators, bioassessment, and biocrit.

Publication Date: March 2008

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