The objective of this project is to improve understanding of the
biological integrity of stream and river systems in the United States
Mid-Atlantic Region by combining information from separate monitoring
surveys, available contextual information on hydrologic units and remote
We propose to develop spatial statistical models for measures of biotic
integrity on the streams and rivers that capture the spatial variation in
the measures. These models will be used to estimate the biotic integrity
through the riverine system based on the information from multiple sources
and scales. We will also quantify the uncertainty in the estimates and
develop methods to visualize the resulting estimates and uncertainties.
We hope that the project will be used as a case-study of how
state--of--the--art statistical methodology can be used to leverage the
information in existing monitoring surveys.
The United States Mid-Atlantic Region
The study area is the Mid-Atlantic region of the eastern United States
and its watersheds. This region is defined by the EPA to be the land and
near coastal area that includes all of EPA Region III and parts of Regions
II and IV. An elevation map of this region is given in Figure 1. The
region extends from southern New York into northeastern North Carolina.
The region includes EPA Region III (i.e., Pennsylvania, West Virginia,
Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia); the Susquehanna and Allegheny River
basins, which extend into New York; the Delaware River basin, which
extends into New Jersey; and the Chowan-Roanoke and Neuse-Pamlico basins,
which extend into North Carolina. The Mid-Atlantic region encompasses the
area from the Mid-Appalachian highlands to the estuaries.
This region was chosen for a number of scientific and practical
regions. The Mid-Atlantic region has been extensively studied by the EPA
and other scientific groups. The region is one of the most data-rich areas
in the country, in part because of its dense population and proximity to
Figure 2 represents the hydrography of the region, that is, the major
rivers, streams and watersheds. The watersheds are represented by the
(8-digit) hydrological units within the region. The information is based
on the reach file (survey d). Figure 3 provides an overview of the land
cover and land use type. The information is based on the Landsat Thematic
Mapper data (survey c).
The project is to be a case-study for the combination of information
from multiple sources. The accessibility of the case-study will be
improved by basing it on readily available, compatible and mature data
sets. Most of the data are available in formats readily adapted to
standard GIS and statistical analysis packages (e.g., ARC/Info, SAS and
The project will use as its foundation the work of the following four
An Ecological Assessment of the United States Mid-Atlantic Region: A
- The EPA/ORD Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment (MAIA)
multi-year project undertakes a ecosystem-based evaluation of the
Mid-Atlantic region and its watersheds. A major objective is to produce
a "State-of-the-Region" report that addresses strategic environmental
MAIA incorporates numerous state, regional, and
national environmental monitoring programs into an assessment process
specifically targeted to the management needs of EPA Region III.
Examples of programs with which there are specific cooperative efforts
include the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP), the
mid Atlantic Highlands Assessment, the National Biological Service's Gap
Analysis Program, the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Delaware Estuary
Program, the Virginia Coastal Bays Program, the U.S. Geological Survey's
National Water Quality Assessment Program, the Forest Service's Forest
Inventory and Analysis Program, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration's Coastal Change Analysis Program.
For an description
of MAIA go to
The Atlas is a freely available EPA report
assessing relative ecological conditions across the Mid-Atlantic region,
and was published in April 1998. The Atlas identifies, with never-before
achieved detail and comparability, patterns of land cover and land use
across the region. The Atlas represents one of the first regional-scale
ecological assessments of the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
The report is based on data from satellite imagery
and spatial databases on biophysical features such as soils, elevation,
and human population patterns. It compares nine landscape indicators on
a watershed-by-watershed basis for the lower 48 states (at a relatively
coarse-scale resolution of 1 km), placing the mid-Atlantic region in the
context of the rest of the country. Using finer-scale spatial resolution
(e.g., 30-90 meters), the report then analyzes and interprets
environmental conditions of the 125 watersheds in the mid- Atlantic
region based on 33 landscape indicators. Results are presented relative
to four general themes identified by stakeholders in the region: (1)
people (potential human impacts), (2) water resources, (3) forests
(forest habitat), and (4) landscape change.
The data underlying this
Atlas will prove invaluable for the project. For an description, see the
Mid-Atlantic Regional Assessment (MARA) of Climate Change Impacts
conducted at the Pennsylvania State University
The study is
being conducted as part of the U.S. National Assessment, under the
auspices of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The PSU study is
supported by the EPA and is scheduled for completion by January 2000.
Four questions guide MARA:
- 1. What are the region's current stresses and related issues?
- 2. How would climate change and variability affect these stressors,
or create new ones?
- 3. What actions would increase the regions resiliency to climate
variability, reducing negative impacts and taking advantage of
opportunities created by climate change?
- 4. What new information is needed to better answer questions 1) and
2) and to evaluate adaption options.
The assessment builds on data from many sources, especially the above
two. It provides additional knowledge about the region that will prove
useful for the project. Of particular interest is work done by the Water
Resource Impacts group. For a description of see MARA and Water
Resource Impacts group.
Specific Component Surveys
The components surveys we use are:
and Christie 1993).
- EMAP Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment (MAIA) Survey