Friday, October 29, 2010

HHEI Sampling in Captina Tributaries

HHEI (Headwater Habitat Evaluation Index) is a metric the EPA uses to assess the quality of headwater streams in a watershed.  A headwater stream is defined as one whose drainage area is 1 square mile or less.  The assessment factors in characteristics like macroinvertebrate and small vertebrate (salamanders, small fish) populations, stream substrate, maximum pool depths, and bank widths.  The EPA is in the process of compiling data for all of the headwater streams in the Captina watershed but it is a very time-consuming process because there are so many (17 in the Cat Run subwatershed alone!).  I have posted a few pictures from our trip Wednesday to an unnamed trib in the South Fork subwatershed near the SR 26 bridge.

OEPA biologist Ed Moore samples the substrate in the stream

OEPA macroinvertebrate specialist Mike Bolton surveys leaf litter
collected from the stream for macroinvertebrates like stone, may
and caddisflies.  Mike certainly knows his bugs.  Laura Hughes (left)
and Leah Graham (rear) assist in the collection process.

A great find!  Two adult spring salamanders (Gyrinophilus
porphyriticus) were discovered at this site.  The spring salamander
is a resident of cold, shallow streams particularly around spring
seeps on the creek bank.  Check under rocks and leaf litter piled
against shaley outcrops at the stream's edge as well.  Adults can
reach upwards of 6 inches in length and are usually a dull reddish-
orange color. 

Kelly records conductivity and dissolved oxygen levels within
the stream.  Conductivity values give an idea of how much dissolved
solids like metals are in the water.

Chris Skalski is a salamander (salamander whisperer) specialist from
OEPA.  Chris and I were able to trade some good information about
 local salamander populations and habitat within the watershed.  We
are hoping to do some vernal pool work later this spring. 

A sampling of the biotic fauna of this tributary to the South Fork.
Check out the two-lined salamander larvae (Eurycea cirregea) and
the stone fly nymphs.  Needless to say this stream grades
outstanding habitat.

More to come soon..... 

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know Leah was helping you! How fun! I'm so jealous of all your great diversity!