Visual Assessment of Cullowhee and Richland Creek to Assess Habitat Quality

Wayne Carlos Ryan

Abstract


Increased urbanization efforts have had multiple detrimental effects on the habitat quality of streams throughout the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Rapid Bioassessment Protocol (RBP) and the United States’ Department of Agriculture’s Stream Visual Assessment Protocol (SVAP) were used to assess the habitat quality of Richland and Cullowhee Creek, in an effort to 1) compare the two habitat assessment protocols and 2) compare habitat quality between streams and between urban and rural areas. Four total sites were surveyed: an upstream rural area and a downstream urban area at each of the stream locations. We found significant differences with the SVAP protocol between rural and urban sites, as well as an overall difference between Richland and Cullowhee Creek. We found no significant differences in the RBP scores. Variances in protocol methods can be attributed to different scores among the observers and the habitat features scored. Cullowhee Creek had healthier amounts of habitat complexity and habitat vegetation, while Richland Creek has suffered from increasing urbanization and removed riparian vegetation.


Keywords


Creek, Rapid Bioassessment Protocol, Stream Visual Assessment Protocol,

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