Because water and rivers have been viewed and taught as if they were plumbing instead of living or life-supporting, water resources have ...
Because water and rivers have been viewed and taught as if they were plumbing instead of living or life-supporting, water resources have been progressively degraded by the actions of human society. Early efforts to maintain water quality used water samples and the presence of chemical pollutants to assess the health of rivers. Water chemistry, it was assumed, served as a surrogate of stream biological condition. We now know that assumption is flawed and many agencies, institutions, and citizen groups in more than 60 countries around the world are shifting to biological rather than chemical assessment to track the health of rivers and their watersheds. Biological monitoring and assessment provides a more integrative approach to assessment of stream condition than does chemical monitoring. The index of biological integrity (IBI) was initially developed in the Midwestern United States to examine the condition of fish communities in streams and rivers. Its strengths has stimulated biologists and water managers around the world to employ the IBI approach in studies of fish as well as stream macroinvertebrates, especially insects, and plants, such as algae and diatoms. These two videos introduce the IBI, illustrating how it can be used to guide citizens and managers to improved understanding of the condition of local streams and rivers. Knowledge of the condition of rivers and the activities of humans in a watershed or region provides the foundations for diagnosis of the causes of degradation and suggests management activities that will protect the biology of healthy streams and improve the biological condition of degraded streams. This goal is directly tied to the biological integrity goals of the Clean Water Act in the United States and the European Unions Water Framework Directive.