We compiled macroinvertebrate data collected from 1995 to 2014 from the St. Louis River Area of Concern (AOC) of Lake Superior. Our objective was to define depth-adjusted cutoff values for benthos condition classes to provide an analytical tool for quantifying progress toward achieving removal targets for the degraded benthos beneficial use impairment. We used quantile regression to model the limiting effect of depth on selected benthos metrics, including taxa richness, percent non-oligochaete individuals, combined percent Ephemeroptera, Trichoptera, and Odonata individuals, and density of ephemerid mayfly nymphs (Hexagenia). We created a scaled trimetric index from the first three metrics. Metric values above the 75th percentile quantile regression model prediction were defined as being in relatively excellent condition in the context of the degraded beneficial use impairment for that depth. We set the cutoff between good and fair condition as the 50th percentile model prediction, and we set the cutoff between fair and poor condition as the 25th percentile model prediction. We examined sampler type, geographic zone, and substrate type for confounding effects. Based on these analyses we combined data across sampler types and created separate models for each of three geographic zones. We used the resulting condition-class cutoff values to determine the relative benthic condition for three adjacent habitat restoration project areas. The depth-limited pattern of ephemerid abundance we observed in the St. Louis River AOC also occurred elsewhere in the Great Lakes. We provide tabulated model predictions for application of our depth-adjusted condition class cutoff values to new sample data.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
- Area of concern
- Beneficial use impairment
- Great Lakes
- St. Louis River