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Keywords:

  • stream morphology;
  • aquatic habitat;
  • stream surveys;
  • survey design

ABSTRACT: The precision of width and pool area measurements has rarely been considered in relation to downstream or at section hydraulic geometry, fisheries studies, long-term or along a continuum research studies, or agency monitoring techniques. We assessed this precision and related it to other stream morphologic characteristics. Confidence limits (95 percent) around mean estimates with four transects (cross-sections perpendicular to the channel center-line) ranged from ± 0.4 to 1.8 m on streams with a width of only 2.2 m. To avoid autocorrelation, transects should be spaced about three channel widths apart. To avoid stochastic inhomogeneity, reach length should be about 30 channel widths or ten transects to optimize sampling efficiency. Precision of width measurements decreased with decreased depth and increased with stream size. Both observations reflect variability caused by features such as boulders or coarse woody debris. Pool area precision increased with pool area reflecting increased precision for flat, wide streams with regular pool-rime sequences. The least precision occurred on small, steep streams with random, boulder or coarse woody debris formed pools.