Assessing ecological integrity for impaired waters decisions in Chesapeake Bay, USA

Versar Inc., Ecological Sciences and Applications, 9200 Rumsey Road, Columbia, Maryland 21045, USA.
Marine Pollution Bulletin (Impact Factor: 2.99). 12/2009; 59(1-3):48-53. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2008.11.011
Source: PubMed


To meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act, the States of Maryland and Virginia are using benthic biological criteria for identifying impaired waters in Chesapeake Bay and reporting their overall condition. The Chesapeake Bay benthic index of biotic integrity (B-IBI) is the basis for these biological criteria. Working together with the states and the US Environmental Protection Agency, we developed a method for impairment decisions based on the B-IBI. The impaired waters decision approach combines multiple benthic habitat-dependent indices in a Bay segment (equivalent to water bodies in the European Water Framework Directive) with a statistical test of impairment. The method takes into consideration uncertainty in reference conditions, sampling variability, multiple habitats, and sample size. We applied this method to 1430 probability-based benthic samples in 85 Chesapeake Bay segments. Twenty-two segments were considered impaired for benthic community condition. The final decision for each segment considers benthic condition in combination with key stressors such as dissolved oxygen and toxic contaminants.

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Available from: Daniel Dauer, Aug 05, 2014
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    • "In order to define metrics that differ between degraded and reference areas, establishing reference zones using different criteria, such as Best Expert Judgment (Bay et al., 2007;Ranasinghe et al., 2009;Weisberg et al., 2008), could reduce incorrect differentiations produced by the use of chemical and toxicological measures. Finally incorporating the uncertainly approachLlansó et al. (2009a)into the B-IBI employment for ecological assessments could increase index efficiency and minimize misclassifications "
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    ABSTRACT: The Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity (B-IBI) was developed and is currently employed for environmental assessment in Chesapeake Bay. The index consists of a variety of benthic community metrics (e.g. abundance, biomass, diversity, stress tolerance groups, etc.) scored by thresholds applied to seven benthic community habitats (tidal freshwater, oligohaline, low mesohaline, high mesohaline mud, high mesohaline sand, polyhaline mud, and polyhaline sand) This index was verified as being a sensitive and robust tool for summarizing the status of benthic communities. In our study we tested the classification efficiency of the index using new benthic data by characterizing each sample a priori as degraded or undegraded using criteria of sediment contaminant levels, bioassays and bottom dissolved oxygen levels. A primary objective of our study was to test the classification efficiency of the B-IBI in small water bodies connected to larger water bodies of the mainstems of the large rivers of Chesapeake Bay, as well as the efficiency of the index over time (1990 through 2009). The B-IBI was affected by the size of the water body, e.g., index accuracy was higher for water bodies in small watersheds in lower salinity habitats, whereas large water bodies of the mainstem of rivers were better classified by the B-IBI in habitats with higher salinities. Across the seven benthic habitat types overall correct classification was moderate to low and lower for correctly classifying undegraded sites. In general the index metrics showed some deficiencies that suggest improvements could be made by recalibrating existing metric thresholds or selecting new suitable metrics.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2016 · Ecological Indicators
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    • "Benthic macroinfaunal communities are a central part of habitat assessment programs in coastal waters around the world (Diaz et al., 2004; Borja et al., 2006; Llansó et al., 2009). Macroinfauna are used because they are relatively immobile residents in sediments, where contaminants accumulate, and have a diversity of life stages and feeding modes that make them responsive to multiple types of disturbance (McIntyre 1985; Warwick 1988; Gray and Elliott, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: The AZTI Marine Biotic Index (AMBI) requires less geographically-specific calibration than other benthic indices, but has not performed as well in US coastal waters as it has in the European waters for which it was originally developed. Here we examine the extent of improvement in index performance when the Ecological Group (EG) classifications on which AMBI is based are derived using local expertise. Twenty-three US benthic experts developed EG scores for each of three regions in the United States, as well as for the US as a whole. Index performance was then compared using: (1) EG scores specific to a region, (2) national EG scores, (3) national EG scores supplemented with standard international EG scores for taxa that the US experts were not able to make assignments, and (4) standard international EG scores. Performance of each scheme was evaluated by diagnosis of condition at pre-defined good/bad sites, concordance with existing local benthic indices, and independence from natural environmental gradients. The AMBI performed best when using the national EG assignments augmented with standard international EG values. The AMBI using this hybrid EG scheme performed well in differentiating apriori good and bad sites (>80% correct classification rate) and AMBI scores were both concordant and correlated (rs = 0.4–0.7) with those of existing local indices. Nearly all of the results suggest that assigning the EG values in the framework of local biogeographic conditions produced a better-performing version of AMBI. The improved index performance, however, was tempered with apparent biases in score distribution. The AMBI, regardless of EG scheme, tended to compress ratings away from the extremes and toward the moderate condition and there was a bias with salinity, where high quality sites received increasingly poorer condition scores with decreasing salinity.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Ecological Indicators
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    • "Article Llansó et al. 2009; Williams et al. 2009 "
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    ABSTRACT: To assess the responses of planktonic organisms to pollutants in the coastal ecosystems of Gwangyang and Jinhae bays in Korea, we investigated seasonal changes in various biological factors during the period from 2010 to 2012. Based on the characteristics of nutrient uptake by planktonic organisms under the coastal pollution conditions, we focused on four major parameters: total phytoplankton, harmful algal bloom (HAB) species, heterotrophic bacteria (HB) and Escherichia coli to develop a planktonic index of biotic integrity (P-IBI). The threshold values for abundances of total phytoplankton, HAB species and HB were based on the zero Z-score following normal distribution of the data for each parameter during the three years. Based on this approach, the threshold values were: 1.2 x 106 cells L-1 for total phytoplankton; 3.3 x 104 cells L-1 for HAB species; and 1.7 x 106 cells mL-1for HB. Five grade levels for the P-IBI were established, based on the zero Z-scores. The threshold value for E. coli not to be normalized was based on the USEPA and the Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries guidelines. Validity of the grades and threshold values for each parameter established using the field data were tested by algal bioassays in a mesocosm enclosure, which supported the threshold values obtained in the field. In Gwangyang Bay, the annual integrated score for the P-IBI in 2010 was better than in the other years of the study. In Jinhae Bay, the P-IBI for the inner area of Masan Bay was Grade IV-V, indicating unhealthy conditions relative to the central and western outer areas, where the P-IBI varied from Grade II to III. The P-IBI values for Gwangyang and Jinhae bays were mostly rated as "Good (Grade II) or Fair (Grade III)", except for a few stations in the semi-enclosed areas of the inner part of Jinhae Bay. From an overall view based on the P-IBI developed in this study, the coastal ecosystem health status in Gwangyang Bay was in a better condition than Jinhae Bay. The P-IBI indicated also a change to an unhealthy status during the rainy periods of spring and summer, whereas during winter and autumn the index indicated healthy conditions.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Ocean Science Journal
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