Cooperative Fish &
Wildlife Research Unit
TECHNICAL REPORT NO. 34
MONITORING WATER QUALITY AND HABITAT:
Guidelines for National Wildlife Refuges
in Region IV
Rick Sullivan, John Richardson,
Wiley Kitchens and Thomas J. Smith, III
School of Forest Resources and Conservation
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida
For additional copies contact:
Coopertive Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
117 Newins- Ziegler Hall
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611
University of Florida
Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commision
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
MONITORING WATER QUALITY AND HABITAT: Guidelines for
National Wildlife Refuges in Region IU
by Rick Sullivan, John Richardson, Wiley Kitchens and Thomas
J. Smith, III (Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife
This manual has been generated in response to the needs
of the National Wildlife Refuge System in USFWS Region q to
protect habitat of overwintering waterfowl. Its purpose is
to aid in developing a basic program to monitor water
quality and vegetational changes on refuges. The objective
of the monitoring program might be thought of as the
establishment of a safety net, catching trends in water
quality in time for managers to take action and prevent
Since conditions differ widely on various refuges, this
manual is designed to be flexible enough to provide guidance
in a variety of situations, yet still give managers the
information they need to make decisions. For that reason,
this is not a detailed instruction manual on how to conduct
a program. Rather, it is a guide on two levels: 1) it
serves as a guide to the decision-making process involved in
designing a monitoring program, and 2) it directs readers
to the proper resources for explicit directions on different
aspects of that program.
The concept of this manual was developed in a two-part
process. In the first part, the authors made site visits to
each of 8 refuges in Region 4 Csee attached list) and
conducted interviews and site inspections with the refuge
managers and selected staff. The second step was to conduct
a workshop with representatives of each of these refuges.
The workshop provided both the instructional training
and the opportunity for the participants to draw up
collectively the recommended plans for water quality and
vegetation monitoring on each of the refuges. These plans
(appended in the manual) were formulated using the same
conceptual process and guidelines contained in this manual.
The plans serve as examples spanning the range of refuge
habitat types Ccoastal, riverine, lacustrine) in the Region.
Refuge personnel often have very full work loads,
particularly during peak seasons. This has been kept in
mind in the preparation of this manual; hopefully much of
the field work, in particular, can be incorporated into the
framework of existing work schedules, minimizing the
addition of new work hours. At the same time, it should be
remembered that the resulting monitoring program is designed
to detect long-term trends in different facets of water
quality; it must rely on consistency for much of its
effectiveness. Gaps in the recording of data, like holes in
a net, will greatly reduce the effectiveness of the program.
The manual does not assume that refuge personnel have
previous expertise in water testing. It is a practical,
rather than a comprehensive, guide. It is designed to
provide the necessary information or references so that
anyone with a basic biological background can operate and
interpret the tests with confidence. Changes in personnel
or work schedules therefore should not affect the program.
At the same time, consistency in testing procedures is a
very important factor; as far as possible the work should be
carried out by the same person or people each testing
Importance of Water Qualitu
Water quality is intricately linked to the quality of
wildlife habitat in a refuge. Each set of water conditions
favors certain plants; as the conditions change, the habitat
also changes. Often the first indicator that a refuge
manager gets of changes in water quality on a refuge is a
shift in vegetation, affecting wildlife. By the time that
is noticed and the problem is pinpointed, it can be well
This is particularly important in coastal environments
where brackish and salt water encroachment into more
desirable fresh water marsh habitats and wholesale
vegetative losses to open water can result. When water
conditions are constantly monitored, it is easier to detect
early trends that might lead later to major habitat
alterations, providing lead time for management
Traditionally, at most refuges, management is geared to
waterfowl, and that creates another complication. Waterfowl
in large numbers can have great effects on local water
quality, both through the wastes they produce and their
physical disruption of the vegetation.
Early detection of changes in water quality--before
those changes are reflected in altered habitat-- enables
refuge managers to adapt their management practices to meet
anticipated problems. It can also provide insights to the
sources of the problems and enable corrective responses
before they go too far. But that detection relies on a
regular and conscientious testing program.
The USFWS is also developing and assessing a
comprehensive testing program for water contaminants in
national wildlife refuges. The program is being developed
through the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. However,
there are some significant differences between that program
and the one recommended here. The two have different
purposes, and should be thought of as complementary rather
If adopted the Idaho program will be a comprehensive
contaminant monitoring program for each refuge, designed to
test water for outside pollutants, such as PCBs, heavy
metals, pesticides and herbicides. Tests will be less
frequent than those recommended here and will involve
trained specialists rather than refuge staff; analysis will
not be conducted on the spot. Probably the major USFWS
research centers will play a role.
The program discussed here will deal principally with
limnological water quality parameters, rather than just
contaminants. It is designed to allow refuge managers to be
constantly aware of the condition of waters in their
Organization of the manual
This manual is laid out in a series of steps
parallelling the decision-making process for designing a
monitoring program. Although this may occasionally give an
impression of redundancy, particularly in the use of
headings, we feel that it is the most useful division of
information for potential users of the manual. The steps
A. Setting Up the Monitoring Program
1. Planning a water testing program
a. inventorying critical habitats
b. considering factors that influence habitats
c. deciding on frequency of samples
4. choosing locations for samples
2. Planning a vegetative sampling program
B. Monitoring Water Quality
1. parameters to consider
3. taking samples
4. running tests
C. Uegetation and habitat monitoring
1. setting up transects
2. sampling vegetation
D. Recording, storing and using data
The following references are considered mandatory because
of their depth of coverage of topics that are only briefly
described in the guide.
Water Qualitu Criteria: An overview for park
natural resource specialists (Water Resources
Field Support Laboratory, National Park Service,
Colorado State University, Fort Collins).
This document provides a good breakdown of
individual water quality parameters with a short
discussion of the basic properties of the
parameter, the EPA drinking water standard for
it, what types of effects the material has on
aquatic life and other important information. It
provides a source to find what levels to expect in
tests of natural waters and further references to
get more information.
Methods to Estimate Aouatic Habitat Variables
CColorado State University, Colorado Cooperative
Fishery Research Unit).
A real "how-to" book for setting up certain
types of experimental measurements such as
determining area, depth, flows, and chemical
measures. A very good reference source for
finding further information.
Inventoru and Monitoring of Wildlife Habitat
CCooperrider, Boyd and Stuart, eds. U.S. Dept. of
the Interior, Bureau of Land Management).
A prime resource for determining habitat
variables and developing measurements for them.
Sections on planning, major habitats, species
groups, habitat measurements and analysis along
with many literature citations make this book a
must for any wildlife refuge. It also has a good
description of data management and statistical
HACH Water Analusis Handbook The manual that
comes with the HACH kit for chemical analysis. It
describes all of the needed tests and the "recipe"
instructions for carrying them out.
Ecoloou and Field Bioloou CSmith, R.L., Harper and
Row, New York, 1986, third ed.)
The basic manual for field biology, with
sections on different ecosystems and appendices on
statistical methods, environmental measurements
and other topics.
Water Qualitu Field Guide CUnited States Dept. of
Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service:
A general guide dealing with nonpoint sources
of pollution, especially from agricultural lands.
CHAPTER ONE: Setting Up the Monitoring Program
The aim of this program is to set up a sampling scheme
that monitors the temporal and spatial dynamics of water and
habitat conditions on a refuge. In order to do this, it
will be necessary to sample regularly at a sufficient number
of points to catch both the spatial and temporal variance of
the individual system. In order to give an overview of the
refuge's water quality, an intensive, yearly sample is also
recommended. Although a number of tests will be recommended
and described here, it will probably not be necessary for
each refuge to conduct all of them. Rather, the sampling
regime for each refuge will be individually tailored to the
particular problems and conditions of that refuge.
Planning a Water Testing Program
The first step in the planning process is to identify
and inventory critical habitats within the refuge. Those
habitats must be located, their extent determined and the
type of use they receive considered. For instance, at
Mattamuskeet NWR submerged aquatic beds in Lake Mattamuskeet
are critical to waterfowl usage. It is important that the
extent, type and specific locations of those habitats be
determined. In later sections we will provide guidance in
establishing transects, taking samples and mapping habitat,
as well as identifying factors that may affect the water
quality conditions and therefore the habitats themselves.
The next step is to consider the factors that may
affect the water quality conditions and therefore the
habitats themselves. These factors are:
1) water sources: One of the most important factors
in water quality is the source of the water. It is
important to know the major water sources for each refuge;
the origin of the water may have much to do with its
sensitivity to pollutants or their presence or absence.
Many refuges in this region have control structures that
provide flexibility for selecting and manipulating water
deliveries from various sources, ranging from fresh water to
estuarine. Sources may be located by physically
backtracking the incoming water or consulting state
geological or other agencies.
2) inflows, outflows and the relationships between
them: Inflows can be viewed as point sources and
should be monitored accordingly. Prior to opening intakes,
we recommend testing water on both sides of control
structures to assure consistent water quality conditions.
The balance of inflow and outflow determines how much
water is in the system at a given time. By calculating
volumes of water (flow rate times cross sectional area of
the intake) entering any segment of the refuge over a
particular period of time and multiplying by the
concentration level of a substance dissolved in the water, a
loading rate can be determined for that period of time. The
same calculation can be made for outflows, and the
difference between the two is the amount of storage or
retention of that substance remaining over the specified
time frame. This type of calculation provides an index of
buildup in the system. It can be used to calculate how much
water would be required to dilute that substance to some
desired level; it is particularly applicable to salt.
3) storage volumes and turnover rates: The amount of
water held on a refuge and the rate at which that water
replaces itself may affect the quality of the water in many
ways. Large storage and slow turnover can lead to a buildup
of nutrients and pollutants, especially when inflows are
strong. The same conditions can also affect the amount of
dissolved oxygen in the water.
The simplest method for calculating turnover in the
refuge is to calculate the volume of water and divide it by
the yearly inflow or outflow (assuming they are the same).
If the refuge has significantly high or low flow periods, it
may be useful to calculate for shorter intervals.
Turnover time must be taken into consideration when
figuring the rate of sampling. For instance, Lacassine NWR
is largely self-contained; water is supplied almost
completely by rainwater. In such a system, you would not
expect to see large variations in most parameters. But
Felsenthal NWR, with high flow rates right through its green
tree reservoir, has a high turnover rate and continual
replacement of water. That also means a high turnover rate
of substances carried by the water. While Lacassine's water
quality is primarily a factor of internal influences,
Felsenthal's is the result of external contributions. On
externally-influenced refuges water quality can change more
quickly than on those where the water system is more
self-contained; their sampling rates should generally be
Further information on flow-rates and other
calculations is contained in Methods to Estimate Aquatic
Habitat Uariables Csee References, Introduction).
4) water flow levels and hudroperiod: Water flow
typically varies seasonally and may vary considerably within
seasons, depending on rainfall. The amount of water within
the refuge--which is a function of storage capacity as well
as inflow and outflow--will change the areal boundaries
between wetlands and uplands. Those boundaries will also be
altered by channel networks, dikes and other control
structures, as well as islands and vegetation clumps.
Fluctuating boundaries may strongly influence vegetation and
wildlife. Circulation within certain basins can also be
altered by the vegetation itself; dense vegetation can
affect inflow and outflow.
Hydroperiod is particularly important. Hydroperiod is
a critical factor in determining vegetational composition of
habitat as well as overall quality of the habitat for
wildlife, especially waterfowl. Crude estimates of
hydroperiod can be made by determining the amount of time
the water level exceeds the surface elevation of the wetland
in a year; i.e., the amount of time that water covers the
habitat. Consideration of hydroperiod can be much more
complex; frequency as well as duration of inundation can be
determined using the same kind of methodology. To make this
possible, we recommend establishing staff gauges within
canals and other waterways associated with wetlands, as well
as in the wetlands themselves, and routinely monitoring them
throughout the year.
5) nutrients: Uegetative components of these habitats
are responsive to nutrient levels and availability.
Typically, species composition is maintained within given
ranges of nutrient levels. Changes in nutrient levels can
lead to degradation of habitat by encouraging excessive
algal blooms which tend to smother fish and invertebrates,
or result in invasion by less desirable species such as
cattails, which have little or no waterfowl or fish habitat
value. By measuring nutrients in habitats as part of a
water quality monitoring program, the baseline range of
nutrient conditions can be determined and possible
deleterious changes measured against it.
6) possible point sources of pollution: Waste dumps,
drill holes, industrial sites, and farms are all possible
point sources for pollutants. Any point source within a
refuge should be monitored for possible inflow into refuge
7) historical usage patterns of the refuse: Past
management or land use practices on the refuge may have
affected water flow, storage and pollutant buildups in the
water. Any available sources of information on past land
use within the refuge should be investigated. Refuge staff
should be familiar with past usage patterns and alert to
their influence on present water regimes on the refuge.
8) current usage patterns on the refuse: Management
practices that alter the water regime on a refuge can
obviously affect the overall water quality; dams, dikes,
canals, irrigation ditches, and other structures can change
the flow pattern. These factors should be taken into
account as they relate to those described above.
Freouencu of Samplino
The third step in planning a monitoring program is to
determine the frequency with which samples are to be taken.
There are two major considerations in determining how often
to sample water. The first of these is the need to get
sufficient data to make the program useful.
Sampling must at least be done seasonally, since water
conditions can change with seasonal changes in weather,
precipitation, wildlife and human activities. However,
sampling only once each season gives little indication of
trends within each period.
If samples are taken monthly, it is possible to
identify trends in water quality changes. Monthly sampling
gives two or three samples within each season, and yields a
much clearer picture of changing water quality.
Monthly sampling also occurs often enough for refuge
staff to keep their skills and maintain consistency in the
way they take the water samples and conduct the tests.
Consistency in procedures is an important factor in the
reliability of the monitoring program.
The second consideration in scheduling the monitoring
program is the optimal use of staff work hours. The final
schedule must be a balance of those two factors, reflecting
a compromise between data collection and scheduling
considerations. For most refuges a monthly sampling
schedule best meets both needs; however, on some refuges
special conditions may warrant more or less frequent
A monthly sampling regime at a minimum number of points
describes the water quality at selected points over a long
period of time. However, it is not very helpful in
obtaining an overall spatial picture of the water quality on
a refuge. To obtain a better sense of how water quality may
vary over the refuge we recommend a more comprehensive
spatial sampling effort--that is, a one-time sample of a
large number of points, conducted once a year.
The yearly sample is conducted by setting up a number
of grid points, evenly distributed over the refuge. By
using a Loran system or photo-based maps, each grid point
can be visited and water samples taken. Rather than run all
the tests on those samples, it is more efficient to run a
subset of them. A test for specific conductivity Cor
salinity) is a good general indicator of water quality, and
dissolved oxygen readings are useful if a d.o. meter is
already being used in the program. If nutrients are a
possible concern, a nitrate or phosphate test is also
This yearly spatial sample can be an indicator of the
overall health of the water system, as well as pointing out
potential problem spots. It may also be used to determine
locations for monthly sampling points.
It should be remembered that this is designed to be a
monitoring program, not a scientific research effort. Thus
we are not recommending such procedures as taking replicate
samples at each site. We recommend taking only one sample;
if necessary a test can be rerun from the same sample. If
the results still don't seem right, it may be necessary to
return to the site for a second sample.
The fact that only single samples will be taken,
though, places even more importance on the care that the
staff worker takes in collecting the samples and in
conducting the tests. It cannot be stressed too strongly
that the program's usefulness will depend on care and
consistency in both sampling and testing.
Locations for Samolina
The selection of sampling sites will in the end rely on
the knowledge of refuge personnel. They are the people who
best know the refuge on a day-in, day-out basis. In making
the selection they should consider several factors:
1) inflows and outflows: Sample sites should be
established at inflow and outflow points.
Keep in mind that the quality of water coming into the
refuge may vary seasonally, particularly if activities on
surrounding lands and waters are of a seasonal nature.
Agriculture is the most common example of this, with
fertilizers and pesticides applied at certain times of the
year and entering the local water regime, or slugs of
materials released after crop harvests. A testing program
that did not take this seasonality into account might give a
misleading view of the refuge's water situation.
2) concentrations of waterfowl: Heavy concentrations
of waterfowl can alter water quality to a significant
degree. Not only do they add great amounts of nutrients in
the form of waste, but they can alter the vegetation pattern
by feeding or nesting. Heavy-use areas should be
monitored, perhaps more frequently during peak
concentrations of waterfowl. Water flow will greatly affect
the buildup of nutrient wastes in waterfowl areas; outflow
can also transport those wastes to other parts of the
refuge. Such outflow points should be monitored
3) potential point sources: Industrial sites, waste
dumps, drilling sites and intensive agricultural areas are
all potential point sources for pollutants. Any inflow from
such areas should be monitored carefully for appropriate
additives; it is advisable to establish a transect of
sampling points across the grade of pollutants from a point
source, i.e. running back up the flow of water toward the
source, to determine the rate of spread.
4) circulation patterns within the system: Managers
should be aware of areas of poor or very good circulation,
as well as the general circulation patterns within a refuge.
Circulation can be a major factor in the buildup of
pollutants or nutrients in a refuge. Loops, dead ends,
areas that are enclosed or cut by levees, areas surrounded
by vegetation-- any of these may show poor water
circulation. If there are suspicions that an area has
unusually poor circulation, a sample site may be put in
there. Overall familiarity with the refuge will probably be
the best guide to such areas.
5) vegetative communities: It is important to know
what kinds of water quality are associated with particular
vegetative communities, particularly if those communities
are important habitat or are invasive to the refuge. Sample
sites should be established in major habitat areas; they
should also be set both within and near invasive communities
such as cattails.
The factors discussed so far deal with water quality
directly, but it is also desirable to track indirect effects
by monitoring vegetation and habitat changes. To do so, it
is necessary to set up sample plot transects and monitor
them regularly. Changes in the vegetative cover can be
indicators of underlying water quality changes.
A number of parameters are important in assessing
vegetative cover. They include:
1) species composition
2) species freouencu
3) percent cover
1) standing crop/biomass
5) orimaru production
On a scale of difficulty, testing those parameters
ranges from easy (composition) to hard (production). The
decision as to which parameters to use will be balanced
between the need to obtain as much data as possible and the
time and effort required to test some parameters. Important
questions to ask before starting a monitoring program are:
1) where to sample and 2) how frequently to sample. These
and other questions about vegetation monitoring will be
dealt with in Chapter 3.
It is also helpful to know something about the history
of testing on the refuge, or at least to have an idea if
major vegetative changes have taken place. The better the
vegetative patterns of the refuge are known, the more likely
it is that differences will be noticed when they first
occur. It is important to take notes of significant
observations--a new species of plant, a shift in the balance
between two plant groups, an invader moving into an
area--and keep them in a notebook. That notebook should be
part of the documentation of the monitoring program and thus
be available to whomever may take over testing in the
CHAPTER TWO: Water Quality Monitoring
Water Qualitu Parameters
A major step in designing a monitoring program is the
decision about which parameters to monitor. There are many
factors that can affect water quality, but not all of them
apply to all refuges. In fact, some of them may be
significant only in special cases. Management must
consider the conditions on their refuges when deciding
testing parameters, and balance the time and effort required
for some tests against their relevance to the local
A list of the most common and useful water quality
parameters is given below (descriptions and discussions are
drawn from a variety of sources, particularly those listed
in References). We recommend that a battery of these tests
be considered as a minimum sampling effort.
1) conductivitu and salinity: Small quantities of
mineral salts are usually contained in natural inland
waters, but these are generally insignificant. However, the
relatively small volumes of inland waters make them
sensitive to saline inputs. In waters polluted by brines,
agricultural runoff and various chemical wastes, salt
concentrations may rise to harmful levels.
Coastal refuges may experience raised salinity levels
as a result of storm surges, leaks in dikes or levees or
depleted ground water levels. Canals and local subsidence
tend to encourage the upstream encroachment of coastal salt
Salinity is often expressed as specific electrical
conductance; thus, conductivity readings can be used as
measurements of total salinity. Conductivity tests should
be made wherever saline intrusion is suspected; old drilling
sites, for instance, can become point sources for salt
pollution even after drilling has stopped.
In many refuges it is salinity more than any other
factor that determines the dominant vegetative community and
consequently the quality of wildlife habitat.
2) oH: pH is a measure of hydrogen ion activity or
concentration in water; below the neutral value of pH 7 a
solution is acidic, and above pH 7 it is alkaline. A change
of one number in the pH indicates a tenfold change in
hydrogen ion concentration.
Since it can directly or indirectly affect the
concentrations or activity of other chemicals in the water,
pH is an important description of the chemical and
biological systems of natural waters. Generally, the
ability of aquatic organisms to complete a life cycle
greatly diminishes as pH becomes greater than 9.0 or less
than 5.0 (although the EPA criterion for freshwater aquatic
llife is 6.5 to 9.0).
Photosynthesis by aquatic plants removes C02 from the
water, which can significantly increase pH. Therefore, in
waters with plant life (including planktonic algae),
especially low-velocity or still waters, an increase in pH
can be expected during the growing season. Eutrophic lakes
and isolated backwaters often exhibit marked pH increases
resulting from photosynthesis. Furthermore, in the depths
of a eutrophic lake, pH will drop because of decomposition
of settling debris and the consequent increase in CO2.
The turbulence of flowing water promotes gaseous
interchange between the atmosphere and water. The C02
content of water in rivers and streams is less likely to
change, but be aware of other events in the watershed that
may affect pH. Increased leaching of soils or mineral
outcrops during heavy precipitation affects pH downstream.
Human activities--e.g., accidental spills, agricultural
runoff (pesticides, fertilizers, soil leachates), sewer
overflow--may also change pH.
Acid rain, the product of fossil fuel combustion,
produces sulfur dioxide and other oxides which combine with
water to form acids. Water bodies with low buffering
capacity (i.e. low alkalinity) cannot counteract acid rain.
However, the pH of water does not indicate its buffering
capacity, which is controlled by the amounts of alkalinity
and acidity present.
3) alkalinitu: Alkalinity is the sum total of the
components in the water that tend to elevate the pH of water
above a value of about 4.5--that is, a measure of the
water's base capacity. It is measured by titration with
standardized acid to a pH value of about 4.5 and expressed
as mg/l of calcium carbonate. Alkalinity is therefore a
measure of the buffering capacity of water, and thus its
resistance to change in pH.
The buffering capacity of water is critical to aquatic
life. The stability of many compounds is affected by pH.
Aluminum, for instance, is dissolved at both high and low
pHs but not at middle levels; shifts in pH can also mobilize
metals such as lead or affect the activity of phosphorus.
The binding of certain anions to clay particles is also
affected by pH.
A refuge where buffering capacity is important is
Mattamuskeet NWR. With soft water and low alkalinity,
Mattamuskeet can get large shifts in pH from normal events.
These shifts could be instrumental in mobilizing lead from
spent shot that are imbedded in sediments.
1) dissolved oxunen: DO is one of the most important
indicators of the quality of water for aquatic life. Oxygen
dissolves feeely in water as a result of photosynthesis,
community respiration, diffusion at the air/water interface,
and wind-driven mixing. Temperature, pressure, and salinity
determine the amount of DO water can hold, or its saturation
level. Dissolved-oxygen concentrations below 3.0 mg/1 are
generally considered harmful to aquatic life, but
requirements vary according to species, temperature, life
stage, activity, and concentration of dissolved substances
in the water. Embryonic development demands the highest DO
concentrations of any life stage. (Methods to Estimate
Aquatic Habitat Uariables)
5) nutrients: The effects of adding nutrients
(particularly phosphates and nitrates) to aquatic systems
are well known. Additional nutrients can alter the
vegetative community significantly and excessive loading can
lead to artificial eutrophication. An excessive growth of
vegetation can lead to higher pH, lower amounts of oxygen
available in the water, and the other conditions mentioned
in the section on pH. Typical results are algal blooms or
an influx of cattails, pushing out other vegetation.
Particularly important are nitrates CNO3), ammonium CNHq),
and phosphate (POL). Sulfate (SO4) and sulfides (S ) are
important in coastal impoundments and should be considered
in the sampling process for coastal refuges.
6) heavu metals: The possibility of heavy metal
contamination should be kept in mind whenever there is a
chance of industrial wastes entering refuge waters, either
directly or indirectly, through waste dumps or landfills.
Lead from previous hunting activities should always be
7) contaminants: In general, contaminants will not be
considered directly in the program resulting from this
effort. Contaminant testing will be dealt with in the
report generated by the Idaho National Engineering Lab.
program. However, where specific contaminants pose a
potential problem tests can be included in the monthly
program Csee the appendix for a list of tests that can be
done with the HACH kit).
B) temperature: Care must be exercised that water
temperature records reflect the actual conditions in the
body of water. Temperature readings should be taken at the
same depth as the water samples; that is, just below the
9) depth: Water depth is a strong determinant of
plant communities and individual species. Changes in water
depth may be either seasonal or random; the latter will be
more disruptive to established plant communities. Water
levels can be manipulated to encourage or discourage
particular plants for wildlife management purposes, as by
maintaining natural hydroperiods in managed areas.
10) turbiditu: Turbidity is an "expression of the
optical property that causes light to be scattered and
absorbed rather than transmitted in straight lines through
the sample" CAPHA 19B0). Factors such as particle size
distribution, shape, refractive index, and absorptivity
affect light scattering, so it is impractical to consider
relating scattered light measurement to the concentration of
suspended solids. In clear, brightly lit streams, some
turbidity can enhance photosynthesis by lowering light to
less inhibiting levels. More often, photosynthesis is
reduced; and, if it is caused by inorganic particulates,
turbidity can interfere with the filter apparatus of
invertebrates, the gills of fish, and the foraging success
of sight feeders. Within a specific body of water,
turbidity is a seasonal phenomenon depending on stream
discharge, biotic activities, wind circulation, and chemical
Equipment Selected refuges in the region have acquired
DREL/5 Hach Kits for water testing. Obtaining this kit is
an absolute prerequisite for this program. The first step
should be to familiarize yourselves with the kit. It is
recommended that the instruction booklet that accompanies
the kit be photocopied and the original kept in the lab or
refuge library. The pages of the copy can be plasticized or
the copy can be kept in a plastic bag for field reference.
It is also advantageous to punch the copy for ring binders
and use cloth reinforcement rings around the holes. The
copy can be held together with split rings or put into a
binder for easy use. Personal notes on sampling procedures,
methods or local conditions can be added as needed.
Also recommended are Zip-Lock or other resealable
plastic bags for water samples (heavy-duty or freezer bags
are best), permanent-ink felt-tip pens for writing on the
bags, and a field notebook for making observations that
might be of later interest. If the Hach kit manual is in a
binder, the field notebook can be made simply by adding
extra loose leaf pages at the end. In that way, everything
can be kept together. Plastic pockets, punched for ring
binders, are available at most places that sell school
supplies; they are an excellent way to keep pens, pencils
and extra supplies from getting lost. Waterproof paper and
pencil or permanent ink should be used in notebooks.
Taking Water Samples
Tests should not be conducted in the field. It is far
better to take samples and carry them back to base for the
tests to be run. Each bag should be clearly marked and
identified before the sample is taken (while the bag is
still dry). The bag should be put in the water C a few
inches under the surface) while still closed, then opened
and resealed under water. Trash and floating debris should
be kept out if possible; avoid stirring up sediments,
especially with the boat.
Consistency is the single most important factor in
water testing. Each test should be taken in exactly the
same manner, at the same depth, and clearly marked for later
Running the Tests
Any of the recommended water tests can be run with the
Hach kit (see appendix -- for a list of tests that can be
done). Every effort should be made to run the tests within
24 hours of taking the samples. Great care should be taken
in conducting the tests and recording the results (see Ch.
Complete instructions for each test are given in the
Hach kit manual, along with background information. It
should never be forgotten that diligence, consistency and
repeatability are the most important factors in long-term
monitoring. Each test should be run in exactly the same way
(or as near as possible) each time. The directions should
be followed exactly. If it is found necessary to alter the
testing procedure in any way, such as diluting the water to
bring the sample within the testable limits, then a note of
that fact should be made in the instruction manual.
Supplies for the HACH Kit: It is important to keep a three
to six month stock of supplies on hand for the HACH kit.
Technicians should keep on top of the inventory and order
well ahead. However, keep in mind that some of the
chemicals have limited shelf lives; it is not advisable to
let supplies build up too much. It is probably best to
order two or three times a year, making sure that supplies
never drop too low. If no date appears on the container, it
is advisable to write the date purchased somewhere on the
label or container. Pay attention also to storage
instructions for the supplies.
Recording the Data See Chapter 4 for information on
recording and storing the testing data.
CHAPTER THREE: Uegetation and habitat monitoring
Uegetational communities are determined by a number of
parameters, such as nutrients, hydroperiod, water depth,
salinity, and others already discussed. For each of these
physical factors, an individual community has both a range
of tolerance and an optimal range. Within that optimal
range the community will do best, if all other needs are
met. If the values for any of those parameters are outside
the range of tolerance, the community may not be able to
In some cases, the level of certain parameters may be
deduced by the vegetation itself. For instance, different
communities of Spartina occur at different salinity levels.
A gradient can be traced from those occurring in salt water
to those in fresh. If the salinity level changes the
vegetation community will also change. Similar gradients
exist for other parameters.
Cypress trees are strongly affected by hydroperiod.
Although cypress can grow almost anywhere, they only have
the competitive advantage when the hydroperiod is extremely
long. Under almost permanently wet conditions most other
tree species drop out, but cypress can flourish. Thus the
optimal level of a certain parameter may be determined not
only by the individual species' tolerance, but by the lack
of tolerance in other species.
Sometimes a combination of factors can alter the
vegetative makeup of a wetland. Cattails react aggressively
to the addition of nutrients in the water. If the increased
nutrients are accompanied by an altered hydroperiod, the
cattails may spread over a large area very quickly,
outcompeting the original vegetation community. Refuge
staff should be aware of what types of vegetation changes
signal changes in water quality and sample accordingly.
SETTING UP TRANSECTS
A number of other factors should be considered when
deciding where to set up vegetation monitoring transects.
It should be kept in mind that vegetation surveys need not
be done as frequently as water sampling.
Freouencu In general conducting vegetation survey
transects once a year should yield sufficient data for
monitoring purposes. Although it may be desirable in some
cases to space transect sampling out even further there is a
danger of losing continuity, either through simple lack of
practice or through loss or transfer of personnel.
Continuity in the sampling efforts is an important
consideration. Unless the system is exceptionally stable
and homogenous yearly sampling probably represents the best
compromise between information and effort.
Time of year is also an important factor in sampling.
It is important that sampling take place during the growing
season, perhaps in mid-summer to mid-fall. Fortunately,
this is often a slack time on refuges.
Number The number of transects should be kept low
enough so that the yearly sampling only takes two or three
weeks. However, the sampling should also be comprehensive
enough to detect significant vegetation shifts. The final
number of transects will depend on local conditions in each
Length Transect length will also depend on local
conditions. A quarter-mile transect, containing 15-20
sample points, might be a typical length. Some transects
might be longer in order to establish baseline relationships
or if they cut across a long grade.
Location If transects already exist on the refuge or
if they have existed in the past it would be wise to
continue or reinstate them. Past data offer an excellent
opportunity for detecting change in vegetation communities.
If the transects are still in use the data from them will be
contiguous with this monitoring program, effectively
enlarging the data base.
Other transects should be established across
significant grades. For instance, if there is a suspected
nutrient or pollution source feeding into the refuge, it
would be advisable to run a transect across the grade of the
affected area--i.e., the transect would run back up the flow
and through the affected vegetation. Changes in the
vegetation along the course of the flow might indicate that
it is affecting the water quality.
Transects can also be run across the boundaries of
different vegetation communities, allowing the detection of
change in the relationships between two communities.
High-use waterfowl areas, such as feeding, roosting or
sleeping pools, should be monitored for vegetation changes.
Transects in these areas may be shorter or longer depending
on whether the vegetation is fairly homogenous.
Maintenance Transacts should be well marked with
permanent markers to insure consistency. Steel posts are
best; information codes can be stamped onto the posts. PUC
pipes can also be used, although they are not as
satisfactory. Although the transect itself needs to be
well-marked, it is not necessary to mark each sample site
along the transect. Sample sites can be determined by a
number of methods that measure distance along the transect.
Alterations In some cases transects may have to be
lengthened if conditions change drastically. However,
transects should be shortened only if time becomes a major
problem. In such a case, it may be better to consider
dropping a transect entirely, if it is in an area where
little of interest is happening, rather than shortening
several others. Any time transects are shortened or
dropped, however, the markers should be left in place for
future reference. Should conditions change the original
lines could then be reestablished and the ensuing data would
be directly comparable to the earlier records. Again,
consistency is the key to a monitoring program.
The purpose of vegetation sampling is to give some
measure of dominance or importance. Sampling also indicates
the appearance or disappearance of species. The important
thing to concentrate on is repeatabilitu. Establish a
well-described routine and stick to it. It is important to
have the sampling routine described in detail so that
consistency can be maintained in the event of personnel
As mentioned in Chapter 1 there are several
parameters that can be used in assessing vegetative cover.
1) species composition: basically a list of the species
occurring at a sample point. This is the easiest type of
vegetation sample to conduct--it is Just a list of species
occurring along a transect. Typically species are
sight-checked within a series of plots; 5m x5m is a good
size, although smaller plots may be appropriate. Often the
sample plot is designated as the area next to an airboat and
equalling it in size. In some cases, it may prove more
manageable to use plots as small as im x 1m, particularly if
the vegetation is fairly homogenous. At other times, when
the vegetation is diverse, it is better to use larger plots,
or combine several smaller ones.
2) Species freouencu: one of the most useful
measurements of vegetation, since it tells what proportions
of the vegetation are in each species. Species frequency
can be determined with a five-point sample, using a Sincock
Sampler, a device with 5 prongs. The Sampler is tossed out
of the boat and each plant touching one of the prongs is
recorded. Typically, three or four samples are taken,
perhaps one in each direction from a boat.
3) Percent cover: the other most useful parameter,
percent cover, is a visual estimation of the % of a plot
that is covered by each species. It gives a good idea of
relative abundance and dominance. Since consistency is
important the person or persons conducting the tests should
practice estimating areas within plots. If more than one
person is taking samples, they should practice together to
insure corresponding values.
4 & 5) Standing croo/biomass and primaru production:
basically more useful for research than for monitoring,
since both methods are more difficult and time consuming
than the others listed here. For the purposes of this
monitoring program, these are not efficient in terms of time
Although species composition can tell something about
the vegetation on a refuge, it is limited in the amount of
information it can provide. Of more use to a monitoring
program are samples for species frequency and percent cover.
These samples can give information about changes in the
relative abundance of different plants and the habitat's
response to changes in water quality.
It is recommended that refuge staff use either or both
of those sampling techniques in the monitoring program.
However, it should also be remembered that the point of the
entire program is to serve as a net to detect changes in
water quality. Refuge staff should be aware of the native
species on the refuge and also any invading species that
might be present due to alterations in nutrient levels,
hydroperiod, salinity or other factors. In other words,
staff should not rely solely on transects for information on
vegetational changes; they should remain alert for signs of
alteration in the refuge's vegetation community. Any
unusual or rare plants, or the sudden occurrence of a
species in a new area should be noted either on the data
sheets or in a field notebook, so that the information is
available. Such instances may signal an underlying change
in water conditions.
Sources for Maps, Aerial Photos and Satellite Images
Many refuges have vegetation maps that have been
prepared at some time in the past. These maps are
invaluable for comparison to present vegetation patterns.
If they exist, they may be found in refuge files, records or
publications from university research projects or the files
of state or federal agencies. They may be difficult to
locate, but they are worth it.
Aerial photographs provide a similar advantage. They
give an overall look at the refuge's vegetation, and may
reflect an earlier time. Currently, the National High
Altitude Photo Program CNHAP) does aerial surveys on a
continuous basis. The pictures are available through the
EROS Data Center in Sioux Falls. Aerial photos are also
often available in files of local, state or Federal
agencies. If no photos are available it is possible to have
them done if the money is available or the need is
particularly acute. Training in photo interpretation of
wetlands is available through the EROS data center and is
highly recommended for this program.
A large step up from aerial photos are satellite
images. Unlike aerial photos, they can cover a large area,
including an entire refuge and surrounding watershed in one
image, or close in on a smaller area. Satellite images can
also be manipulated by techniques like false-color imagery
to give considerably more information than photographs.
There are two satellite imagery programs: the American
LANDSAT and the French SPOT programs. The prices for data
from the two are about the same, but there are differences
in the material: the SPOT images have slightly higher
spatial resolution, while LANDSAT gives higher spectral
Some sources for satellite imagery and habit maps
include the National Wetlands Inventory, the National
Coastal Ecosystem Team, university research projects,
government agencies, and planning boards. A further list of
sources is found in the appendix of "Methods to Estimate
Habitat Uariables" and in "Inventory and Monitoring of
Wildlife Habitats" (see references).The processing of
satellite imagery must be done with specialized equipment
and is best handled by a contract, for instance with a
APPENDIX: Refuge Plans, Workshop List, HACK Kit tests
CHAPTER FOUR: Data Handling
The results of the water quality analysis and vegetative
field studies will remain as baseline information for the
refuge. The dataset has a value for the present in helping to
understand some of the relationships in the system and the
influence of outside forces on the water quality inside a
refuge. In the long term, the dataset provides both a base-
line and a time series of water quality information that is
invaluable. This is particularly true if inflows or
The handling of the data and the respective data sheets,
floppy disks, and charts or graphs should be as legal docu-
ments or money, since their value in the future may be
Field measurements and lab measurements
In some cases it may be easier to have two separate data
sheets. A field sheet would contain data gathered in the
field such as depth, temperature, dissolved oxygen, secchi
disk depth or conductivity. These measurements can all be
entered as they are taken in the field. A data sheet that
contains columns for the analysis done in the lab can be keyed
to the field data sheet by site or sample number. The ad-
vantage of using two sheets is that the field sheet can con-
tain space large enough to enter the field data easily instead
of smaller columns that can be used in the lab. A dis-
advantage is that the sheets must be correctly keyed together
in order to prevent errors. If the same sample stations are
always used, then the station numbers can be printed on the
data sheets and xeroxed.
The following example could be used as a model for gen-
erating data sheets. A generalized data sheet may not have
enough pertinent information. Some thought should go into
developing the format depending on the quantity of information
to be recorded. The sheets can be made up and xeroxed making
it simple to fill in the blanks. Space for comments should
also be included.
Sample No. pH Co
SAMPLE DATA SHEET
nduc- Dissolved Alkalinity N03 P04 SO4 Temp
I I I I I
As microcomputers become available on refuges, strong
consideration should be given to entering the data into some
type of computerized database. This enables the user to do
much more with the data in the long run.
Data entry is the most important and most boring of the
tasks associated with utilizing the data on a computer. It
cannot be overstated that adequate entering, checking and re-
checking of the data must be done. In many cases, after the
data have been entered, a second person can read out the data
and check it against the original data sheets, finding most
typographical errors. Once the dataset has been entered, the
data sheets should be archived for future reference. They are
the real data and may need to be checked at some future time
if there is some doubt about any of the analysis.
The big question is "What program should I use to store
the data with?" Any database manager program or spreadsheet
program should be sufficient. There are some advatanges to
each of them, but generally data can be transferred from one
to the other if necessary. Spreadsheet programs such as LOTUS
123, MULTIPLAN or EXCEL are easy to use and enter data. They
provide the capability to graph the data and provide some
mathematical and statistical analysis techniques. Database
manager programs such as DBASE or Rbase can sort and organize
the data a little more easily than the spreadsheet programs
and can generally handle larger databases. They do not offer
as many capabilities for graphing or analysing the data.
Analysis of the Data
Some caution should be used when analysing data gathered
in a survey or screening program such as this. Since repli-
cates are not generally taken, the statistical analysis of the
data must be limited. Graphical interpretation of the data to
look for time series trends or cycles can be most informative.
If data on inflows and outflows are taken then the correlation
between flows and values of parameters may be of interest.
It should be noted that the information is being gathered to
provide a baseline to see if changes are occurring.
Generally, the data will be provided to the regional office or
persons with more knowledge than individual refuge staff to
help with the interpretation of any changes that may be
REFUGE: Alligator River NWR
GENERAL COMMENTS: The initial water quality monitoring plan
developed at the Loxahatchee workshop covers three main
1. Farm Fields The farm fields area has about 4500 acres
of cleared cropland surrounded by a dike system. the area
has a complex internal drainage canal system and is drained
through two pump stations. One station has three 50,000 gpm
pumps while the other has 2 such pumps. The water is
discharged outside the dike and allowed to sheetflow through
forested wetlands to Milltail Creek.
Management for waterfowl is just beginning on these
areas. About 800 acres of moist soil units will be in
operation in fall of 1988. Water is being brought in from
outside the diked farmlands to "water" the moist soil units.
One intake will use water from Milltail Creek, an acid
blackwater stream, and another intake will use water from
"South Lake," actually a bay off the Alligator River and
Albemarle Sound. This area could have higher salinity
levels in the water during dry times of the year.
2. Grassu Patch Unit This will be the first area where
the ditches and canals will be plugged to restore the
natural hydrology of the wetlands on the refuge. The
restoration of these areas, among other beneficial effects,
will improve the value of the area as brood habitat for wood
ducks, since shallow water will remain on the area for at
least a month longer then at present.
3. Long Shoal River/Stumou Point Area This area receives
a great deal of drainage from the Air Force Bombing Range.
These areas of Pamlico Sound are brackish waters and large
quick inflows of fresh water have been shown to disrupt food
chains in the shallow, brackish-water "nursery" areas. We
are hoping that the Air Force may implement some restoration
of natural hydrological regimes on their forested wetlands.
Information on the impact of their drainage on salinity
balance in the Long Shoal River and Stumpy Point Bay may
help persuade them to block off or control their drainage
canals. This would benefit the receiving waters and improve
water retention in wetland wildlife habitat on the bombing
WATER QUALITY TESTING AND VEGETATION MONITORING: Four
sampling stations (indicated on the attached map as Fl, F2,
F3, Fq) will be used in the Farm Fields area. Fl and F2 are
located at the Laurel Bay Pump Station (which contains 3
pumps) and Creef Pump Station (which contains 2 pumps).
Samples will be taken on a monthly basis at the pump intakes
and at three points along a transect past the "spreader
ditches" where the ditches flow through surrounding wooded
The tentative parameters to be sampled are:
conductivity, NHq, N03, total phosphorous, SO', pH,
alkalinity, and salinity. We will soon have data collected
at these points by N.C. State University Agricultural Dept.
since the farm's initial operation in 1983. The list of
parameters to be collected may be altered once we have
looked at the existing data.
F3 and Fq are at the two water intake points. These
will be tested weekly and after significant events (e.g.,
wind tide changes, storms) for the following parameters: PH,
Vegetation in the moist soil units will be monitored by
a combination of permanent transects using the five point
sampler and visually-estimated percent cover along transects
in selected fields.
Vegetation in the discharge areas will be monitored
along permanent transects using the line intersect method.
Grassy Patch unit will be monitored to see what changes
in pH, dissolved oxygen and temperature may occur in the
area with increased surface water for longer periods. These
may affect invertebrate production, which is crucial for
laying hens and young broods.
Four sampling stations will be used (61, 62, G3, GB on
the map). 61 and 62 are on the area to be restored. 61
will be in a large canal to be plugged. 62 will be on a
smaller feeder ditch. 63 and GB are in a control area which
will not be restored intil a later date. 63 is in a large
canal and G6 is on a feeder ditch. Samples will be taken
twice a month from March through August and monthly from
September through February. The following parameters will
be measured: pH, alkalinity, dissolved oxygen.
Permanent transects will be set up and monitored
yearly. The line intercept method will be used to measure
the canopy, shrub and herbaceous layers.
In the Long Shoal River/ Stumpy Point area salinities
would be measured at sites SP-1 and LS-1 monthly and
whenever practical after significant rainfalls. A permanent
transect monitoring the marshes and/or submerged aquatics in
this area will be established and monitored yearly using the
line intercept method.
REFUGE: Big Lake NWR
BENERAL COMMENTS: Upon completion of the drawdown project,
various water collecting stations will be set up on Big
Lake. Data collected will be the same as those on Wapanocca
NWR. No plans are submitted for vegetation analysis.
Various stations will be set up to monitor sediment
deposited by flood waters.
REFUSE: Cache River NWR
GENERAL COMMENTS: A vegetation transact will be conducted
Sb the area forester upon completion of land acquisition.
No water quality sample stations will be set up at Cache
REFUSE: Felsenthal NWR
GENERAL COMMENTS: Felsenthal NWR has recently experienced
raised water levels as a result of the recently completed
Felsenthal Lock and Dam. When the Ouachita-Black Rivers
navigation project was completed and the dam closed in
November 1985 the permanent water level in the refuge was
raised 3.4 feet, from 61.6 feet msl to 65.0 feet msl,
flooding an additional 10,000 acres. This has meant that
there is 10,000 acres of water less than 3.5 feet deep. The
5000 acres of old lakes, sloughs, and creeks thus increased
their depth by the same amount. Up to now the shallow
flooded area beneath the canopy has been shaded. But going
into the third year of being permanently flooded the trees
are dying, thus allowing sunlight to penetrate to the water
Maps are enclosed that locate water quality sampling
points and transect lines of the lakes.
WATER QUALITY TESTING: Seven water quality sampling points
are to be established on the refuge. They are as follows:
1) Saline River, 0.5 miles above the confluence of Eagle
2) Eagle Creek, 0.5 miles above its confluence with the
3) Ouachita River, 0.5 miles above the Saline River;
L) Ouachita River at U.S. Highway 82 bridge;
5) Junction of Wildcat and Redeye Lakes;
6) Ouachita River, 0.5 miles above the Felsenthal Lock
7) Grand Marais Lake near the junction of Spring Bayou
These sampling points will be representative of the
water quality of the streams and main flooded areas of the
refuge. Also, especially during low water periods, samples
will periodically be taken in other lakes and other
backwater areas of the refuge to determine if a water
quality problem exists.
Samples will be taken once a month, the same day of the
month and the same time of day. Each location will be
permanently marked. Samples will be taken just below the
surface of the water. The temperature and depth of the
water will be measured and the turbidity determined. Each
sample will then be analyzed for pH, dissolved solids
(conductivity), nutrients Cnitrogen and phosphorus),
sulfates, dissolved oxygen and chloride.
A labeling scheme will be worked out. Samples will be
placed in a cooler and analyzed as soon as possible. Some
of the remote lakes on the refuge, such as Hoop Lake and
Pereogeethe, may be sampled periodically or as a need
arises. The logistics of sampling them on a regular basis
would be overwhelming.
HABITAT MONITORING AND TRANSECTS: Permanent transects will
be established in the shallow, flooded areas to determine
what aquatic growth will appear. The transects will cover
the new water depth from 0 to 3.4 feet. Also transects will
be established in areas already open where aquatics are now
established. A five-point sampler will be used and emergent
submergent aquatic plants will be identified and per cent
cover obtained. Also woody species such as Buttonbush
CCephalanthus occidentalis ) will be recorded.
On the older lakes a different sampling system will be
used. The lakes are basically open except for scattered
cypress and buttonbush along the edges. The water is
deeper, averaging six to eight feet. Species composition
and per cent cover of submergent and emergent aquatics will
be determined. Again, because of the logistics, only those
lakes on the south end of the refuge that contain some
aquatic growth will be sampled at this time.
Transacts will be established running either east-west
or north-south. The number of transects will vary according
to size and configuration of the lake Csee enclosed maps).
The distance of each transect line will be measured. Every
30 feet the water depth will be measured and all aquatic
vegetation in a meter square will be determined. Some of
the transects will correspond with water quality sampling
Transacts in the new water regime will be done later
and maps prepared; these will have to be done in the field
as areas of dead timber vs live timber and open areas are
located. Attempts will be made to identify and monitor
aquatic vegetation at the beginning, end and during the
REFUGE: Lacassine NWR, LA
GENERAL COMMENTS: Heavy concentration of waterfowl in
WATER QUALITY TESTING: During fall and winter months,
sampling should be carried out every two weeks. When the
majority of waterfowl have vacated these areas, sampling
should be only once a month.
Two samples need to be taken in two locations of the
Pool C16,0O0 acre impoundment) that represents a majority of
the waterfowl use. One location is just west of Jim Ridge
and the other is north and eastr of the duck trap
observation tower. We also need to establish two control
areas within the Pool with little or no waterfowl use. Two
samples will be taken from each control area.
Two other areas where sampling needs to be carried out
are the Lacassine Bayou along the north refuge boundary and
in the bayou near the Streeters Canal system. Each location
will require two samples, due to potential inflows from
agricultural runoff and oil/gas production.
All samples will be tested for conductivity, nitrogen,
ammonia, pH, dissolved oxygen, alkalinity, sulfate, and
HABITAT MONITORING AND TRANSECTS: Recommendations include
the reestablishment of old vegetative transects, originally
set up by Jacob Ualentine in the hunting area south of the
Intracoastal Waterway, and the establishment of two more
transacts inside the Pool. Uegetative monitoring should be
conducted twice during the First year, one in mid-spring and
one late summer or earlU fall.
REFUGE: Matamuskeet NWR
GENERAL COMMENTS: Sampling already taking place at
Matamuskeet at selected points.
WATER QUALITY TESTING:
1. Continue biweekly salinity monitoring at four major
water control structures (sound side and lake side)
and at all Route 94 culverts (only one of five cur-
rently being sampled.
E. Biweekly test for the following constituents at the
locations mentioned above: specific conductance,
turbidity, temperature, pH, reactive phosphorous,
nitrates, ammonia, sulfates, and alkalinity. Take
all samples on the same day.
3. Conduct quarterly tests for the same constituents at:
an off-refuge site northwest of the lake (data base
in case of peat mining), four major agricultural
ditches draining into the lake (one site per lake
quadrant), and at three points on each side of the
lake (choose sites in high and low waterfowl use
areas; use Loran and stake each site).
4. Biannuallu sample sites according to wet and dry sea-
sons in #3 For aluminum, mercury, lead and selenium.
Collect data for three years. Refuge staff can do
aluminum test; send samples to state or universitW
lab for other metal analyses (samples can be acid-
ified with nitric acid and shipped in polUethylene
HABITAT MONITORING AND TESTING
1. Continue biannual vegetation transects in marsh im-
poundments and Lake Matamuskeet. Use aerial photos
to document vegetation gradients in MI-11.
2. Add two transact lines on each side of lake running
north/south and sample biannually to document change
vegetated and non-vegetated zones. Use quadrat
method to measure composition and per cent cover.
3. Type grid entire lake. Using Loran and quadrat method,
take several point samples every half minute; measure
composition and per cent cover. Sample every 3 hours.
REFUGE: Merritt Island NWR
GENERAL COMMENTS: Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
encompasses approximately 140,000 acres of upland, marsh,
and water habitat. Aquatic habitats account for
approximately 70,200 acres of the total acreage. There are
approximately 50,900 acres of marine and estuarine habitats
and 19,200 acres of mosquito control impoundments. A total
of 76 mosquito control impoundments are found along the
Indian River, Mosquito Lagoon and Banana River.
WATER QUALITY TESTING: Fifty-three of the 76 impoundments
on the refuge have water quality stations. The remaining 23
stations are in estuarine or watershed areas. The refuge
sampling program covers all the large marine communities,
all significant impoundments, and several watersheds.
Dissolved oxygen, salinity, temperature, and water levels
are recorded at each of the 76 stations. In addition,
dissolved oxygen, pH, and secchi disk readings are collected
in freshwater borrow pits under direction of the refuge
Fishery Management Plan.
Of the 76 impoundments (totalling 19,200 acres) on the
refuge, 52 (totalling 18,328 acres) have water control
structures where water levels and salinities can be
partially managed. Twenty-eight impoundments (totalling
13,310 acres) have water control structures with riser board
capabilities where water levels can be set at specific
levels. Twenty-one impoundments (totalling 2,660 acres)
have no connection with the estuarine community.
levels within the impoundments will increase to,
or remain at, moderate levels. Elevated portions
of impoundment bottoms will dry and consolidate.
3. Water levels within the impoundments will be
opened at the end of the wintering waterfowl
season and allowed to fluctuate with the water
levels of the marine communities until the
beginning of the mosquito breeding season. This
strategy will achieve the objective of providing
significant aquatic resources for wintering
waterfowl utilization. Salinity amounts will be
maintained at brackish levels to prevent cattail
invasion. There will be some marine organism and
detrital movement. Some drying and consolidation
through oxidation of bottom material will take
i. Water levels within the impoundments will
remain elevated above those of the marine
communities throughout the mosquito non-breeding
season. Salinities within the impoundments will
depend on the water source used to flood the
impoundment. This strategy will achieve the
objective of providing significant aquatic
resources for wintering waterfowl. Freshwater
fish will benefit where salinities are less than
four ppt and resident salt marsh fish species will
be most productive in greater salinities. Where
There are four water level strategies in operation
within the impoundments. All four strategies are in the
context of maintaining optimum salt marsh mosquito
production control. However, any impoundment strategy is
subject to change to control unexpected nuisance mosquito
populations. The four water level strategies are:
1. Water levels within the impoundments will be
allowed to fluctuate with the water levels of the
marine communities throughout the year (mosquito
breeding constraints permitting). This strategy
will achieve the objective of maximizing the
restoration of the salt marsh community, marine
organism and detrital movement. Wintering
waterfowl utilization will adjust to
pre-impoundment water levels. Salinity levels
within the impoundments throughout the year will
be maintained at 0 to 10 ppt less than the marine
community due to rainfall input.
2. Water levels within the impoundments will be
allowed to Fluctuate with the water levels of the
marine communities from the end of the mosquito
breeding season to the beginning of the nest
season. This strategy will achieve the objective
of maximizing marine organism and detrital
movement in and out of the impoundments throughout
the season of greatest marine organism migration
into the historic salt marsh community. Salinity
salinity levels can be kept at low brackish
levels, Chara sp. and Nalas maritime will be
maintained throughout the year in preparation For
good summer production. Where salinity levels
range from brackish to saline levels, Chara sp.
and Ruppia maritime will be most productive.
HABITAT MONITORING: Habitat monitoring within
aquatic habitats at MINWR has been extensive over
the past 10 years. Habitat monitoring can be
roughly divided into three categories. Initial
monitoring concentrated on Dusky Seaside Sparrow
recovery efforts in impoundments T-10-H, T-10-J,
T-10-K and T-10-L. In 1981, a major study, "Salt
Marsh Habitat Monitoring on the Merritt Island
National Wildlife Refuge" was initiated in
impoundments T-10-H, T-10-J, T-10-K and T-24-C.
In 1986 another major management study, "Aquatic
Habitat Monitoring on the Merritt Island National
Wildlife Refuge" was initiated. This study
involves an annual survey of vegetation transects
in 23 impoundments.
1. Change sampling frequency from bimonthly to monthly
2. In addition to present sampling for salinity,
dissolved oxygen, water temperature, and water
depth, initiate sampling for the following water
quality parameters at all 76 stations:
3. Continue present habitat monitoring programs.
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT MEMORANDUM
Date: February 24, 1989
To: Unit Leader, Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife
Research Unit, Gainesville, FL
From: Refuge Manager, Merritt Island National Wildlife
Refuge, Titusville, FL
Subject: Review of DRAFT MONITORING WATER QUALITY AND HABITAT:
Guidelines for National Wildlife Refuges in Region IV
We have reviewed the draft Guidelines as requested and offer the
Page 7. References
It would be helpful if a full citation for these references were
given. Also, information on where these references might be
obtained would be helpful.
Page 29. Running the Tests
There are 76 permanently-established water quality stations at
Merritt Island NWR. Data collection efforts for the four
parameters that we presently perform (dissolved oxygen, salinity,
temperature, and water depth) takes approximately 2.5 person-days
per sample effort. Given the intensity of sampling effort, it
would not be possible to perform the additional recommended tests
within 24 hours of sample collection. The only possible scenario
where we could meet the time recommendation would consist of
sampling on one day and running the tests the next day for the
previous days sampling. Under that scenario, it could
conceivably take us six days to complete the recommended
sampling effort. Taking into consideration the additional
recommendation of sampling on a monthly basis as opposed to our
present sampling scheme of bimonthly sampling, sampling effort
could be quadrupled over present sampling effort. An effort of
this type would initially strain refuge resources and it would be
difficult, if not impossible, to maintain this program without
seriously impacting other refuge programs.
In addition to sampling considerations, we presently have no wet
facilities available where we can effectively conduct the HACH
tests as recommended. This would limit our testing efficiency
considerably and could result in additional time necessary to
complete our sampling effort as recommended.
There is no doubt that the recommendations contained in these
draft guidelines represent a positive attempt to document water
quality and vegetation baseline conditions and perturbations.
However, we feel that the recommended increase in the number of
water quality parameters tested and the increase in sampling
frequency could create considerable refuge time and manpower
constraints. While some of the operational constraints we have
identified do not fall under the review process for this draft
document, there are alternatives that could ameliorate or
alleviate our concerns. Those alternatives we have identified to
date follow below and we invite your comments.
Alternative 1 No Action.
This alternative represents sampling conditions as they presently
exist. We would maintain the present level and frequency of
water quality and vegetation sampling. Obviously, this
alternative would not meet the conditions set forth in the draft
Alternative 2 Increase the number water quality parameters
sampled and sampling frequency as recommended in
This alternative could be accomplished under two scenarios. The
first scenario would involve the use of existing refuge personnel
at the present funding levels. Because of the significant
increase in sampling as recommended and the time necessary to
accomplish that sampling, this scenario would place considerable
constraints on existing refuge resources.
The second scenario would involve an increase in refuge funding
levels and personnel to accomplish Guideline recommendations.
This scenario would alleviate refuge time and manpower
constraints, not tax present programs, and provide for the
collection of water quality and vegetation data in support of
waterfowl management programs.
Alternative 3 Increase the number of water quality parameters
sampled and sampling frequency while
consolidating and, thereby, reducing the number
of sampling stations.
This alternative could alleviate refuge time and manpower
constraints associated with the implementation of Guideline
recommendations while maintaining the integrity of the water
quality sampling program at the refuge. Under this alternative,
an analysis of past water quality data would be conducted and in
areas where data variance was insignificant, water quality
stations would be consolidated. This could result in a reduction
of the number of stations where monthly water quality sampling
would be conducted. While the number of stations where data
would be collected on a monthly basis would be reduced, the
present framework of water quality stations would remain intact
and water quality data would be collected at all stations two
times a year; in July when water levels and waterfowl populations
are lowest, and in January when water conditions are generally
optimum and waterfowl populations are highest.
We appreciate the opportunity to comment on these draft
Guidelines and look forward to working with you on this project
in the future.
te hen R. Vehrs
REFUGE: Sabine NWR
GENERAL COMMENTS: The purpose of this plan is to establish
procedures for monitoring water quality and habitat
conditions. Data collected will identify potential problems
which affect water and habitat quality and provide a means
- of viewing changes in the Sabine marsh ecosystem in a
consistent and reliable manner. Hopefully these data will
be used as a feedback mechanism for land use activities and
provide direction for new research if justified.
One of the primary objectives of the Sabine NWR is to
provide suitable habitat for wintering waterfowl. In
support of the 1986 North American Waterfowl Management
Plan, this monitoring plan will provide baseline data useful
in detecting changes in the Sabine marsh system which could
impact the quality of wintering waterfowl habitat.
Many potential and realized problems confront the
maintenance of Sabine's marsh ecosystem. Louisiana coastal
marshes are being converted to open water at an average
annual loss rate of 40 square miles. The U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers predicts that by the year 2010 over two thirds of
the Sabine NWR will be lost. The causes for these severe
losses are complex and confounded by numerous manmade and
natural influences. Despite the complexity of mechanisms
causing these losses, coastal marshes require a basis of
water, plants and a stable soil matrix to prevent a
disparity between accretion and relative water level rise.
This plan is intended to monitor parameters that reflect the
condition of these three variables and thereby provide
usable information for taking actions in preserving Sabine's
wintering waterfowl habitats.
WATER QUALITY TESTING
All data collected will be recorded on standard forms
for file and transfer to the office computer.
A. Grid Survey
A grid survey will be made of all refuge management units by
airboat. Points located approximately 1 lat/long minute
apart will be located using a Loran C navigational unit.
Loran units will have ASF corrected to the West Cove weir
national geodetic survey marker coordinates (designation
REFUGE 2 19B1) and set to the GRI 7980 chain using the X-Y
(26000-6000) stations. See the user's manual for
instructions on Loran setup and operation.
To establish grids, an approximate NE corner "anchor" point
will be selected within each of the 7 western management
areas which optimize grid coverage of marsh habitat. For
the East Cove management unit, the existing Grand Bayou
hydrolab station will serve as the anchor point. Minute
interval grid points will be calculated for each unit using
these points as base references. Each point will be
physically located when Loran readings are within 0.03
minutes from the calculated grid point. The actual lat/long
coordinates will be recorded and the location flagged for
Sampling will be conducted twice annually. The first sample
Swill be taken beginning in the first week of March, a period
of low water and low salinity levels. The second will start
-. the third week of September, corresponding to high water and
high salinity levels. Data should be collected for each
management unit in an intensive effort of short duration to
reduce within-group variations. Sampling within a unit will
be completed before continuing to another. All sampling for
a biannual period should be concluded within 15 working
Salinity and specific conductance readings will be taken at
each site and recorded on standard forms. Water samples
will be collected at each point, iced down and transported
to the office for analysis. Each sample will be
refrigerated until analyzed. All analysis will be performed
within 24 hrs. from collection. Alkalinity, NHS, P, N03,
SO' and PH will be measured for each sample.
Water samples will also be collected from existing salinity
stations during normal monthly salinity data collection.
Specific conductance will be measured and recorded along
with salinity at each station. All samples will be iced
down and transported to the office for analysis. Each
sample will be refrigerated until analyzed. All analysis
will be performed within E2 hrs. from collection.
Alkalinity, NH4, P, N03, SO', and pH will be measured for
HABITAT MONITORING AND TRANSECTS: At each point the per
cent cover within a 25m square will be ocularly estimated
following classes proposed by Daubimire C1959). Percentages
of dominant plant species, species of special concern or
those known to be important waterfowl foods, open water and
mud flats will be recorded. The flagging stake will serve
as the SW corner reference point for each square. If a
stake is missing, a new one will be placed in a method
consistent with the selection of the original site.
Line transects used by Jacob M. Valentine, Jr. for
vegetation surveys of management units 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6
will be reestablished. Each line will be surveyed annually
beginning in April, using an airboat. Stops will be made
every 0.5 lat/long minute and a 25m square ocular estimate
made of the vegetation in a manner described for Grid
Surveys. No attempt will be made to mark locations or
collect water samples.
REFUGE: Tennessee NWR
GENERAL COMMENTS: Tennessee NWR is a major wintering area
for waterfowl with over 300,000 waterfowl in 1987. The 5000
acre Duck River Bottom area of the refuge is the primary
'- waterfowl concentration area. There are 12 impoundments
that range from 61 acres to 1200 acres in size and contain
1500 acres of agricultural land and 3000 acres of moist
soil. The major water quality concerns are:
1. Agricultural herbicidal runoff
2. Livestock waste runoff
3. Water treatment plant effluent discharge
4. Waterfowl excrement contamination
5. Heavy metals contamination
E. Eutrophication and related weedy plant invasion
7. Drought conditions and related water quality degradation
8. Kentucky Lake Reservoir system--PCBs, chlordane, arsenic
A brief summary of our water quality concerns for each
1. Agricultural herbicide runoff The Duck River Bottom
area contains 1500 acres of agricultural lands in the
cooperative farming program. Corn, milo, and soybeans are
the only grain crops allowed. In addition, winter wheat and
buckwheat are grown as goose browse. The use of approved
herbicides is a major factor in the agricultural program and
will become more important in the future as no-till
practices are increased. There are also several
agricultural fields located adjacent to the refuge that
probably drain onto it.
2. Livestock Waste Runoff There are several livestock
farms that operate adjacent to the Duck River Bottoms. It
- is known that the ditches leading from some of the
operations drain directly into the impoundments.
3. Waste Treatment Plant Effluent Discharge The City of
Waverly draws its water supply from the Duck River and has a
pump station on the refuge. A water treatment plant is
located adjacent to the refuge and the effluent discharge is
drained into Impoundment No. 12.
4. Waterfowl Excrement Waterfowl concentrations within
the impoundments are significant. Tens of thousands of
waterfowl concentrate in the impoundments at one time. This
concentration occurs from November through February
annually. The excrement load released into the impoundments
may be a significant contaminant.
5. Heavu Metal Contamination A July 1985 contaminant
survey conducted by FWS identified significant levels of the
metal nickel in two specimens of drum fish taken from the
Duck River impoundments.
6. Eutrophication and Related Weedu Plant Invasion The
combination of agricultural runoff (fertilizers), livestock
waste, and waterfowl excrement provides excellent conditions
for eutrophication within the impoundments. Eutrophication
can lead to an invasion of weedy plants (cattails, willow,
etc.) which can outcompete the moist soil plants.
7. Drought Conditions and Related Water Qualitu Degradation
Middle Tennessee is in a fourth consecutive year of drought.
Drought conditions can influence primary productivity of the
impoundments, impact food chain effects, reduce dissolved
- oxygen levels, increase water temperatures, and result in
overall decreased water quality and degradation of the
8. Kentucku Lake Reservoir Sustem The refuge lies
entirely within the Kentucky Lake Reservoir. The KLR is a
multipurpose reservoir designed principally for flood
control, navigation, and power generation, with secondary
uses that include water supply, waste discharge, commercial
and recreational fishing, and other recreational activities.
Kentucky Lake supports a large commercial fishing and
musseling trade. Since 1986, there have been continuing
problems with mussels and fish--primarily from disoffs and
disease. Several studies are continuing to monitor water
quality and the aquatic environment. Studies have
identified the presence of PCBs, chlordane, arsenic, and
heavy metals. Commercial industries (paper mills, chemical
companies, etc.) are releasing waste effluent into the lake.
Housing development along the shoreline is progressing at a
fast pace with sewage discharge becoming a significant
WATER QUALITY TESTING
Baseline data will be collected monthly to monitor
water quality. The following monitoring program will be
SSampling Locations There will be 16 water samples collected
and analyzed monthly. The samples will be collected from
the 12 impoundments, the duck trap area, Duck River,
Tennessee River, and drinking water (as a control). See Map
1 for water sample collection locations.
The following tests will be conducted monthly by refuge
staff using the HACH DREL/5 kit:
These additional tests will be conducted semi-annually:
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
February 6, 1989
Refuge Manager, Tennessee NWR
Review of Draft af Water Quality and Habitat Monitoring Manual
Dr. Wiley Kitchens, Leader, FCFWRU, Gainesville, FL 32611
I have reviewed the draft of Water Quality and Habitat Monitoring
Manual. The following comments are provided.
1. The manual is very easy to understand and should be of
benefit to a refuge manager in determining the type of water
quality monitoring program that should be conducted.
2. We are using a convenient water collection procedure that
other refuges may find helpful. Zip-lock bags or other
resealable bags are not very sturdy for our water collection
and handling. We use 2-liter plastic cola containers for
field collection. You can obtain from any distributor, an
8-pack holders) for transportation and handling. The
plastic containers are durable, cheap (free), and readily
available. They probably would not be convenient for someone
who has more than 32 water samples to collect or does not
have enough space in a vehicle (boat) for the containers to
3. I will need to remove three (3) water tests from our initial
list because they cannot be conducted with the DREL/5 HACH
kit. These tests are for the elements: aluminum, nickel,
4. I recommend to add to our initial list the following tests:
chlorine (quarterly), and chromium (semi-annually).
5. I recommend to add quarterly water quality testing at the Big
Sandy and Busseltown Units of the Tennessee National Wildlife
Refuge. Elements to be tested for are the same as the tests
at Duck River Unit. There will be four (4) sampling stations
at Big Sandy: 1-Robbins Creek Impoundment, 2-Ross Creek
Impoundment, 3-Bennett's Creek Impoundment, 4-Kentucky Lake
area of Bennett's Creek embayment. There will be three
sampling stations at Busseltown: 1-Impoundment No. 2,
2-Impoundment No. 3, 3-Tennessee River. See attached map
for water sampling sites at these units.
6. I recently sent to you a recommendation that our monthly
testing be changed to quarterly.
OPTIONAL FORM NO. 10
GA PPMR (41 CFR) 101-1 .6
U.S. GPO: 1987 181-247
Thank ou for the opportunity to comment on this draft report.
SAFETY LEARN TO LIVE WITH IT
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
TENNESSEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
BENTON, DECATUR, HENRY, HUMPHREYS, AND PERRY COUNTIES, TENNESSEE
W .O 30"
BIG SANDY UNIT
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
BUREAU OF SPORT FISHERIES AND WILDLIFE
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COMPILED IN THE BRANCH OF ENGINEERING
FROM SURVEYS BY TENNESSEE VALLEY
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TENNESSEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
BENTON, DECATUR, HENRY, HUMPHREYS, AND PERRY COUNTIES, TENNESSEE
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
BUREAU OF SPORT FISHERIES AND WILDLIFE
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COMPILED IN THE BRANCH OF ENGINEERING
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REFUGE: Wapanocca NWR, Arkansas
WATER DUALITY TESTING: Plans call for 12 water-collecting
Stations to be set up at various locations on Wapanocca NWR
(see map). Each sample will be tested for pH, 0D content,
alkalinity, phosphorus content, turbidity, ammonia nitrogen,
and specific conductivity.
HABITAT MONITORING AND TRANSECTS: Each moist soil unit
and/or impoundment will be monitored annually through
transects to determine vegetation (per cent and types).
Wapanocca Lake and Little Lake will be monitored to
determine per cent and type of submerged aquatics. A grid
type of transcript will be used.
WATER TESTS THAT CAN BE CONDUCTED WITH THE DREL/5 HACH KIT:
Acidity, Methyl Orange
Chloride mercuricc nitrate method)
Color, apparent and true
Copper (Bicinchoninate method)
Iron, total (using FerroUer Iron Reagent)
Manganese, High Range
Nitrogen, ammonia CNessler method)
Nitrogen, Nitrate (high range)
Nitrogen, Nitrate (low range)
Oxygen, Dissolved CAzide-Winkler method)
pH, wide range
Phosphorus, reactive, low range
Phosphorus, Acid HydrolUzable
Phosphorus, Organic and Acid
Silica, Medium Range
Turbidity CAbsorptometric Method)