United States
              Environmental
              Protection Agency
Office of Research
and Development
Washington, DC 20460
National Health & Environmental
Effects Research Laboratory
EPA/600/F-09/007
      June 2010
                     Western  Ecology Division
     Methods for Aquatic Resource Assessment
The MARA project goal is to improve national aquatic resource assessments
by conducting research on aquatic monitoring and assessment methods.
The Methods for Aquatic Resource
Assessment (MARA) project con-
ducts research on:  1) aquatic indica-
tors, survey designs and assessment
methods required for EPA Office of
Water's National Aquatic Resource
      1) NARS Research

The National Aquatic Resource Sur-
veys conducted by EPA's Office of
Water, in collaboration with states,
assess the condition of the nation's
waters (streams, rivers, lakes, coastal
waters, wetlands). To improve their
scientific basis and cost-effectiveness,
MARA conducts research in three
main areas: 1) indicator development
with an objective to recommend new
indicators or improve existing indica-
tors, 2) survey design with an objec-
tive to increase cost-effectiveness of
NARS and integration with state
monitoring, and 3) assessment meth-
ods with an objective to improve
methods on how to summarize the
state of the aquatic resources.
right:
Assessment reporting on biological
condition of streams based on macroin-
vertebrate index ofbiotic condition
from EPA Wadeable Stream Assessment

  Project Lead: Dr. Steven Paulsen
           (541) 754-4428
      Western Ecology Division,
          NHEERL USEPA
   200 SW 35th Street, Corvallis, OR
                97333
       http://www.epa.gov/wed
    Surveys (NARS); 2) spatial prediction of
    river and stream condition at unsampled
    locations; and 3) development of indica-
    tors of ecosystem services, or the sum
    total of benefits that an ecosystem pro-
    vides to society.
        2) Spatial Prediction of
     Aquatic Resource Condition

    Spatial prediction uses data from sampled
    locations to predict, i.e. spatially interpolate,
    aquatic resource condition at locations that
    have not been sampled. Since it is not pos-
    sible to monitor condition everywhere,
    states and EPA require spatial prediction
    methodology to better manage aquatic re-
    sources.  Spatial prediction models require
    information from monitoring programs,
    such as NARS, as well as information on
    watershed characteristics and other factors
    that influence aquatic condition. MARA
    has developed a simple spatial prediction
    model to predict the probability of high
    phosphorus concentrations in Western
    streams.  Current research focus is on pre-
    dicting the condition of stream biota, nutri-
    ents, and physical features of habitat.
      National
      (lower
                      above: Many sites in the west are
                      remote and require "unusual" means
                      of transport for the field crew and
                      their sampling gear. Equipment in-
                      cludes nets for collecting macroin-
                      vertebrates, filtration kit to collect
                      bacteria samples, and surveying
                      equipment to characterize physical
                      habitat.
                         3) Ecosystem Service
                                Indicators

                       Ecosystem services are the many
                       life-sustaining benefits we receive
                       from nature-clean air and water,
                       fertile soil for crop production,
                       pollination, and flood control.
                       These ecosystem services are im-
                       portant to our health and well-
                       being, yet they are limited and
                       often taken for granted as being
                       free. There is a need to identify,
                       understand and quantify these
                       services so that environmental
                       decision makers can evaluate the
                       trade-offs to sustainability and
                       human health when ecosystem
                       services are changed by human
                       activities. MARA focuses on 1)
                       identifying indicators of ecosys-
                       tem services quantity and value
                       that can be monitored nationally
                       and  2) developing a monitoring
                       framework to conduct that moni-
                       toring.
                                                       Percentage of Stream Miles
                                                  I Good D Fair  Poor D Not Assessed

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