Examining land use influences on stream habitats and macroinvertebrates: a GIS approach

C. Richards, G. Host

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) were used to assess the relationships between land use patterns and the physical habitat and macroinvertebrate fauna of streams within similar sized watersheds. Eleven second or third order watersheds ranging from highly urbanized to heavily forested were selected along Lake Superior's North Shore. Land use patterns within the watersheds were quantified using readily available digital and use/land cover information, with a minimum mapping resolution of 16 ha. Physical habitat features, describing substrate characteristics and stream morphology, were characterized at sample points within each stream. Principal component and correlation analyses were used to identify relationships macroinvertebrates and stream physical habitat, and between habitat and land use patterns. Substrate characteristics and presence of coarse woody debris were found to have the strongest correlations with macroinvertebrate assemblage richness and composition. Agricultural and urban land use was correlated with substrate characteristics. Algal abundance, associated with macroinvertebrate compositional differences, was correlated with housing density and non-forest land covers. The use of readily available spatial data, even at this relatively coarse scale, provides a means to detect the primary relationships between land use and stream habitat quality; finer-resolution GIS databases are needed to assess more subtle influences, such as those due to riparian conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNCASI Technical Bulletin
Number of pages1
StatePublished - May 1 1999


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