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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biology and Microbiology

First Advisor

Nels H. Troelstrup, Jr.


Biological monitoring has become an important component of state water quality programs, but few studies have focused on comparison of metric sets from different taxonomic groups within the same study. This research effort was conducted to (1) define and compare optimal macroinvertebrate, macrophyte and phytoplankton monitoring metrics for use in northern semi-permanent prairie basins and (2) create an integrated optimal metric set using the above groups. Phytoplankton, macrophyte and macroinvertebrate samples were taken from seven lakes in three different counties once a month during August 2001, June- August 2002 and June 2003 in eastern South Dakota. Data were applied to 10 candidate macrophyte metrics, 24 candidate phytoplankton metrics and 64 candidate invertebrate metrics. Metrics were optimized by minimizing reference site variability, maximizing site discriminatory power (Barbour et al. 1999), eliminating redundancy and determining statistical significance between reference and study lakes. Optimized phytoplankton metrics included Carlson’s Trophic State Index, Cyanobacteria richness, species evenness, corrected chlorophyll a, number of species, percent Chrysophyta, percent Pyrrhophyta, Shannon-Weiner Index, Chlorophyta richness and percent centric diatoms. Of these 10 metrics, eight metrics (80%) displayed significance between reference and study lakes. Sixtythree percent of macrophyte metrics displayed significant differences between reference and study lakes. Potamogeton richness, species richness, Potamogeton pectinatus dry weight, frequency of Utricularia vulgaris and Chara vulgaris dry weight were all significantly greater in reference lakes. Based on the variability within reference lakes and inability to define appropriate metrics, an optimized metric set was not developed. Basin macroinvertebrate metrics included percent sediment intolerant taxa, number of tolerant taxa, percent Orthocladinae, Oligochaeta richness, percent predators, species richness, percent collector-gatherers, percent burrowers, percent Chironominae and percent Tanypodinae. All basin invertebrate metrics displayed significant differences between reference and study lakes. Littoral macroinvertebrate metrics included Hilsenhoff’s Biotic Index, evenness, percent dominant taxa, percent collector/gatherers, Shannon-Weiner Index, percent swimmers, percent predators, tolerant taxa and total taxa. All littoral invertebrate metrics also displayed significant differences between reference and study lakes. The phytoplankton metric set ranked Lakes Thompson, Henry and Preston as slightly impaired, while Lake Whitewood was moderately impaired relative to reference lake communities. The basin macroinvertebrate metric set and the littoral macroinvertebrate metric set ranked all lakes as slightly impaired. The integrated metric set ranked Lakes Thompson, Henry and Preston as slightly impaired, while Lake Whitewood was borderline between slightly and moderately impaired. Based on the combined optimized metric set, it is concluded that a combined metric set can provide a better understanding of the integrity of these lakes. Integration of multiple metrics sets provides information on different areas of a lake basin. Phytoplankton and basin macroinvertebrate metrics describe the trophic status within the pelagic zone, while littoral macroinvertebrate metrics describe shoreline habitat conditions where materials enter the basin. This research provides baseline data for the development of an index of biotic integrity by combining different taxonomic groups into a single multimetric index. Further studies should be conducted to refine the current optimized set and to determine if an integrated optimized metric set does actually provide a better understanding of the integrity status of lakes. It is also important to develop reference conditions for specific ecoregions and preferably subecoregions since the distribution, abundance and activity of macroinvertebrates and phytoplankton can vary considerably.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Lake ecology -- South Dakota
Ecological integrity -- South Dakota
Biotic communities -- South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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