Regional Applications of an Index of Biotic Integrity for Use in Water Resource Management

TitleRegional Applications of an Index of Biotic Integrity for Use in Water Resource Management
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1988
AuthorsMiller, DL, Angermeier, PL, Hughes, RM, Karr, JL, Molloy, DP, Schrader, LH, Thompson, BA, Daniels, RA, Fausch, KD, Fitzhugh, GA, Gammon, JR, Halliwell, DB, Leonard, PM, Orth, DJ

The index of biotic integrity (IBI) integrates 12 measures of stream fish assemblages for assessing water resource quality. Initially developed and tested in the Midwest, the IBI recently was adapted for use in western Oregon, northeastern Colorado, New England, the Appalachians of West Virginia and Virginia, and northern California. The concept also was extended to Louisiana estuaries. In regions of low species richness, the IBI proved difficult to apply and often required extensive modification. Adapting the 1BI to those regions required that metrics be replaced, deleted, or added to accommodate regional differences in fish distribution and assemblage structure and function. Frequently replaced metrics include: proportion of individuals as green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), proportion of individuals as insectivorous cyprinids, proportion of individuals as hybrids, and number and identity of sunfish and darter species. The proportion of individuals as top carnivore metric was often deleted. Metrics added include total fish biomass and the number and identity of minnow species. These modifications generally followed the original IBI concept and its theoretical underpinnings. Problems remain in establishing tolerance rankings and scoring criteria, and adjusting scoring criteria for gradient differences in streams of similar size. The IBI holds promise for direct biological monitoring because of its strong ecological foundation and flexibility. Vermont, Tennessee Valley Authority, Ohio, Kentucky, and Illinois have incorporated the IBI into their monitoring or standards programs. The IBI thus serves as a quantitative, biological goal for water resource management.