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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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Fish Monitoring Sections

 


Bureau of Freshwater & Biological Monitoring

Habitat

Large Woody Debris
Photo Credit: NJDEP
Excessive nutrients
Photo Credit: NJDEP
Large outfall with eroded bank
Photo Credit: NJDEP

 

The quality of the physical habitat in a river or stream has a strong influence on the aquatic community present. Instream and riparian habitat are one of several factors that impact the biological integrity of a waterbody (Karr et al. 1986; Rankin 1995). The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Freshwater and Biological Monitoring conducts habitat surveys at every site during biological sampling. The rapid habitat assessment form used features 10 habitat categories which are visually assessed by the crew leader in the sampled reach and scored on a scale of 20 (optimal) to 0 (poor) for each category. The scores for each category are summed together to produce the overall habitat score. The overall habitat score has four ratings categories (optimal, suboptimal, marginal and poor) to characterize the overall quality of the habitat in the sampling reach. Due to differing geologies and habitat, there is a high gradient and low gradient habitat assessment form. The high gradient habitat form is used when sampling high gradient stream reaches in NJ north of the fall line, both the northern fish IBI and the headwater IBI use the high gradient habitat assessment form. In the coastal plain of southern NJ, the low gradient habitat assessment form is used to assess streams sampled in by southern fish IBI.

The high gradient habitat assessment form evaluates the following 10 characters:

1) Epifaunal Substrate/Available Cover 2) Embeddedness 3) Velocity/Depth Regimes 4) Sediment Deposition 5) Channel Flow Status 6) Channel Alteration 7) Frequency of Riffles 8) Bank Stability 9) Bank Vegetative Protection 10) Riparian Vegetative Zone Width

The low gradient habitat assessment form evaluates the following 10 characters:

1) Epifaunal Substrate/Available Cover 2) Pool Substrate Characterization 3) Pool Variability 4) Sediment Deposition 5) Channel Flow Status 6) Channel Alteration 7) Channel Sinuosity 8) Bank Stability 9) Bank Vegetative Protection 10) Riparian Vegetative Zone Width

 

Karr, J. R., Fausch, K. D., Angermeier, P. L., Yant, P. R., & Schlosser, I. J. (1986). Assessing biological integrity in running waters. A method and it's ratioale. Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, Special Publication 5.

Rankin, E. T. (1995). Habitat indices in water resource quality assessments. Biological Assessment Criteria: Tools for Water Resource Planning and Decision Making. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 181-208.

 

 

 

 

If you are interested in more information about the IBI, please contact John Vile at 609-292-0427.

 

High Gradient Habitat Assessment Form

High Gradient Habitat Assessment Form

 

Low Gradient Habitat Assessment Form

Low Gradient Habitat Assessment Form

 

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Last Updated: August 10, 2017