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Keywords:

  • aquatic ecosystems;
  • bioassessment;
  • macroinvertebrates;
  • water quality;
  • land use;
  • urbanization;
  • modeling/statistics

ABSTRACT: The level of macroinvertebrate community impairment was statistically related to selected basin and water-quality characteristics in New Jersey streams. More than 700 ambient biomonitoring stations were chosen to evaluate potential and known anthropogenic effects. Macroinvertebrate communities were assessed with a modified rapid-bioassessment approach using three impairment ratings (nonimpaired, moderately impaired, and severely impaired). Maximum-likelihood multiple logistic-regression analysis was used to develop equations defining the probability of community impairment above predetermined impairment levels. Seven of the original 140 explanatory variables were highly related to the level of community impairment. Explanatory variables found to be most useful for predicting severe macroinvertebrate community impairment were the amount of urban land and total flow of municipal effluent. Area underlain by the Reading Prong physiographic region and amount of forested land were inversely related to severe impairment. Nonparametric analysis of variance on rank-transformed bioassessment scores was used to evaluate differences in level of impairment among physiographic regions and major drainage areas simultaneously. Rejection of the null hypothesis indicated that the levels of impairment among all six physiographic regions and five major drainage areas were not equal. Physiographic regions located in the less urbanized northwest portion of New Jersey were not significantly different from each other and had the lowest occurrence of severely impaired macroinvertebrate communities. Physiographic regions containing urban centers had a higher probability of exhibiting a severely impaired macroinvertebrate community. Analysis of major drainage areas indicates that levels of impairment in the Atlantic Coastal Rivers drainage area differed significantly from those in the Lower Delaware River drainage area.