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University of Wyoming


Monitoring Considerations: Protocols

Protocols: Habitat Monitoring (Physical and Riparian Vegetation)

Monitoring habitat or stream morphology can provide a “big picture” over time of upstream changes, such as changes in land uses or hydrologic changes due to irrigation diversion or reservoir construction. Many of the monitoring approaches such as stream walks or proper functioning conditions use expert knowledge but are none-the-less somewhat subjective and qualitative. Therefore, repeatability of measurements requires special training. Other types of habitat or stream morphology/streambed monitoring require surveying tools and specialized equipment. Even these more quantitative methods necessitate substantial knowledge of the functioning of river and stream systems in order to collect data at appropriate locations.

The physical properties of a river or the health of riparian vegetation may respond to changes in the upstream watershed that are linked to water quality parameters such as sediment or temperature. Other types of pollutants, such as acidity or toxicants, may cause significant impairment to a water body but may not be detectable through monitoring of river morphology or sediment load.