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Badlands National Park, water quality, macroinvertebrates


The Badlands of the Dakotas are rugged landscapes with unique biota, habitats and water quality characteristics. Sage Creek is a Badlands stream, flowing through Badlands National Park and into the Cheyenne River. The objectives of our study were to characterize water quality, stream habitat and aquatic macroinvertebrate communities of Sage Creek. Three reaches, 40x channel width, were sampled using Environmental Monitoring and Assessment (EMAP) protocols alongside other streams and rivers of the National Park Service (NPS) Northern Great Plains Network (NGPN) during the summers of 2004 and 2005. Sage Creek flows displayed intermittency during our project period (0.000 – 0.015 cms). Conductance (636 – 5158 uS/cm), dissolved oxygen (0.6 – 13.2 mg/L), total suspended solids (5 – 1067 mg/L), total phosphorus (0.05 – 18.8 mg/L) and fecal coliform bacteria (<5 – 8900 /100ml) all displayed alarming ranges and extremes. Stream banks were notably incised and with low vegetative cover, while channel bottoms were covered by fine silt and clay. Median total invertebrate abundance (250/smpl) and generic richness (7.5/smpl) from Sage Creek were over 50% lower compared to other network streams. Communities were dominated by Chironomidae, and no Plecoptera or Trichoptera were collected. Parasite and scraper feeding guilds and the glider habit guild were not collected. The three dominant genera (metric) comprised 98% of total abundance from Sage Creek but only 71% from other network streams, while Hilsenhoff HBI values were similar. Results of this assessment correspond with the harsh environmental setting and suggest different management goals may be necessary for Badlands streams.

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Proceedings of the South Dakota Academy of Science



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