Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Katie N. Bertrand


Anthropogenic disturbance of streams can alter biotic integrity in various ways. Some degradation is easy to classify and monitor, others such as habitat impairment may be less easy to quantify. The Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) is a unique method of assessing the aquatic health of an ecosystem. Beginning in 2010 the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (SD DENR) began implementing biological monitoring on wadeable streams by developing an IBI for the Northern Glaciated Plains ecoregion in eastern SD (Krause et al. 2013). Prior to this survey the condition of the majority of SD’s streams was unknown. As the SD DENR expands biological monitoring into the Northwestern Great Plains ecoregion, multimetric indices. Western South Dakota (SD) streams were lacking a prairie stream water quality assessment. The work presented here in will be an expansion on this previous multi metric index from eastern SD into the Northwestern Great Plains (NWGP) ecoregion of western SD. Chapter one focuses on first developing indices of biotic integrity for fish for the NWGP ecoregion and second identifying regional candidate reference sites by applying statistical distributions defined from field data and multivariate discriminant analysis and ATtILA to validate those candidate reference sites. For the development of the IBI, 65 sites were sampled in the NWGP ecoregion and represent a stratified random sample based on the number of perennial wadeable streams within the smaller Level IV ecoregion. Metrics were calculated by assessing fish life history characteristics and placed into nine classes. Metrics were then screened and using a sequential series of statistical evaluation. The final IBI consisted of six metrics that will be used to describe the condition of streams in western SD. The second chapter focuses on the habitat drivers of the IBI. We used the IBI metrics identified for the Northern Glaciated Plains and Northwestern Great Plains ecoregions of South Dakota to represent the attributes of community structure that were most sensitive to anthropogenic disturbance. We then assessed the relationship between habitat variables measured as part of the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) protocols and the IBI metrics for each region. These associations move the IBI beyond characterizing stream integrity to identifying factors that could be manipulated to improve or degrade stream integrity. Through these assessments mangers could formulate management plans to improve water quality and subsequently improve IBI scores.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Biotic communities -- Great Plains.
Ecological integrity -- Great Plains.
Water quality biological assessment -- South Dakota.
Stream ecology -- South Dakota.


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright