A critical part of improving the state of rivers is the ability to assess their health accurately.
Water quality and the composition and abundance of periphyton or invertebrate communities provide valuable indicators of river health, but in addition to knowing what is in our rivers, sometimes it is useful to know what is happening. River health indicators that measure key ecosystem processes are known as functional indicators. They include rates of organic matter decomposition, ecosystem metabolism, nutrient uptake and organic matter retention. For over a decade research at Cawthron has been fundamental in developing tools and frameworks for incorporating functional indicators into a complete assessment of river health.
Here we provide Microsoft Excel worksheet models to assist with the calculation of river ecosystem metabolism using the single station and two station approaches.
Some relevant publications include:
A standardized cotton-strip assay for measuring organic-matter decomposition in streams
Quantifying relationships between land-use gradients and structural and functional indicators of stream ecological integrity
Exploring the response of functional indicators of stream health to land-use pressure gradients
Spatial and temporal variation of functional indicators in Waikato rivers
Organic matter breakdown and ecosystem metabolism: functional indicators for assessing river ecosystem health
Functional indicators of river ecosystem health - final project report
For more information contact Roger Young or Joanne Clapcott