Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 14, 2006
Publication Date: October 11, 2006
Citation: Smiley, P.C., Shields Jr, F.D., Knight, S.S. 2006. Designing stream sampling protocols for measuring ecological effects of conservation practices. Meeting Abstract. p. 16 Technical Abstract: Numerous sampling protocols have been developed for monitoring the water quality of streams. These sampling protocols were designed for monitoring studies that ask "What is the status of the habitat conditions and target populations/communities, and how does this status change through time?" Conversely, scientific evaluations designed to document the ecological effect of conservation practices would ask "How does implementation of a specific conservation practice influence the habitat conditions and target populations/communities?" The difference in these questions implies that sampling protocols designed for one question are not appropriate for the other. Additionally, most evaluations of conservation practices focus on water chemistry, and assessments documenting ecological responses are lacking despite the critical need for this information. We have developed a framework for designing sampling protocols for evaluating stream responses to conservation practices as part of the ARS Conservation Effects Assessment Project – Watershed Assessment Studies. Our framework includes five key recommendations, which are: 1) develop the hypothesis first and use the hypothesis to select sampling methods and response variables to measure; 2) assess the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of each sampling site; 3) select quantitative and repeatable sampling methods; 4) use multiple sampling techniques for collecting aquatic organisms; and 5) standardize sampling efforts for aquatic organisms. The application of our framework will result in sampling protocols that are hypothesis-driven and incorporate quantitative sampling methods for the measurement of physical, chemical, and biological attributes. Our approach for designing sampling protocols provides guidance for researchers interested in measuring the ecological effects of conservation and restoration practices on small to medium-sized streams.