A Comparison of Water Quality Analyses and the Index of Biotic Integrity in Bull Creek, Southwest Missouri


Fawn Kirkland

Date of Graduation

Summer 2002


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Daniel Beckman


There is growing awareness of the relationship between environmental and human health. With this awareness comes the understanding that steps must be taken to balance the needs of humans with the overall health of the environment. Although water chemistry has played a major role in assessing aquatic systems in the past, considerably less research has been conducted on assessing these systems through ambient biological monitoring via fish communities. Missouri is currently joining other states in their efforts to determine aquatic health through an alternative methodology such as the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) in hopes to find an accurate and encompassing standard for all aquatic assessments. This study compares water quality analyses and the Index of Biotic Integrity for measuring the ecological health of Bull Creek, a stream of the White River System in southwest Missouri, with varying degrees of human impact. Results of regression analyses indicated that physicochemical parameters were not strong predictors of IBI scores. Data suggest determining the ecological integrity of streams is best achieved by an integrative approach measuring both chemical and biological parameters. The data presented in this thesis also show that Ozark streams such as Bull Creek are losing their classifications as pristine streams. The Index of Biotic Integrity classified Bull Creek as a 'moderately impaired' stream. Data suggest that eutrophication is affecting fish structure and function throughout the watershed.

Subject Categories



© Fawn Kirkland