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      Downstream effects of mountaintop coal mining: comparing biological conditions using family- and genus-level macroinvertebrate bioassessment tools

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          Setting expectations for the ecological condition of streams: the concept of reference condition.

          An important component of the biological assessment of stream condition is an evaluation of the direct or indirect effects of human activities or disturbances. The concept of a "reference condition" is increasingly used to describe the standard or benchmark against which current condition is compared. Many individual nations, and the European Union as a whole, have codified the concept of reference condition in legislation aimed at protecting and improving the ecological condition of streams. However, the phrase "reference condition" has many meanings in a variety of contexts. One of the primary purposes of this paper is to bring some consistency to the use of the term. We argue the need for a "reference condition" term that is reserved for referring to the "naturalness" of the biota (structure and function) and that naturalness implies the absence of significant human disturbance or alteration. To avoid the confusion that arises when alternative definitions of reference condition are used, we propose that the original concept of reference condition be preserved in this modified form of the term: "reference condition for biological integrity," or RC(BI). We further urge that these specific terms be used to refer to the concepts and methods used in individual bioassessments to characterize the expected condition to which current conditions are compared: "minimally disturbed condition" (MDC); "historical condition" (HC); "least disturbed condition" (LDC); and "best attainable condition" (BAC). We argue that each of these concepts can be narrowly defined, and each implies specific methods for estimating expectations. We also describe current methods by which these expectations are estimated including: the reference-site approach (condition at minimally or least-disturbed sites); best professional judgment; interpretation of historical condition; extrapolation of empirical models; and evaluation of ambient distributions. Because different assumptions about what constitutes reference condition will have important effects on the final classification of streams into condition classes, we urge that bioassessments be consistent in describing the definitions and methods used to set expectations.
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            Review of selenium toxicity in the aquatic food chain.

            In many environmental contaminant situations selenium has become the primary element of concern because of its bioaccumulative nature in food webs. Initial concerns about selenium were related to fish kills at Belews Lake, NC, Martin Lake, TX, and Kesterson Reservoir, CA, and to bird deformities at Kesterson Reservoir. Additional concerns were identified under the National Irrigation Water Quality Program at Salton Sea, CA, Kendrick, WY, Stewart Lake, UT, and Grand Valley and Uncompahgre Valley, CO. Recent studies have raised concerns about selenium impacts on aquatic resources in Southeastern Idaho and British Columbia. The growing discomfort among the scientific community with a waterborne criterion has lead the US Environment Protection Agency to consider a tissue-based criterion for selenium. Some aquatic ecosystems have been slow to recover from selenium contamination episodes. In recent years, non-governmental researchers have been proposing relatively high selenium thresholds in diet and tissue relative to those proposed by governmental researchers. This difference in opinions is due in part to the selection of datasets and caveats in selecting scientific literature. In spite of the growing selenium literature, there are needs for additional research on neglected organisms. This review also discusses the interaction of selenium with other elements, inconsistent effects of selenium on survival and growth of fish, and differences in depuration rates and sensitivity among species. Copryright 2004 Elsevier B.V.
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              Rapid Field Assessment of Organic Pollution with a Family-Level Biotic Index

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of the North American Benthological Society
                Journal of the North American Benthological Society
                Society for Freshwater Science
                0887-3593
                1937-237X
                September 2008
                September 2008
                : 27
                : 3
                : 717-737
                Article
                10.1899/08-015.1
                c2188058-d635-4da8-a621-4d1de748f15c
                © 2008
                History

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