Bioassessment with Algae

Bioassessment with Algae

Algae attached to the streambed is called periphyton, and the abundance of certain types of periphyton, as well as the overall biomass of attached algae may be sensitive to several environmental factors, including nutrients, temperature and the frequency and magnitude of scouring stream flows.  In response to citizen concerns about increasing algal blooms in the South Yuba River, SYRCL added surveys of algae cover to the River Monitoring program in 2008.  At that time, the state of California had no standard procedure for bioassessment using algae, so with funding from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, an expert on the topic was contracted to develop a protocol suitable for use by citizen monitors.  Three sites on the South Yuba River were monitored monthly in 2008.  Following the conclusions and recommendations of a Draft 2008 Pilot Project Report, additional sites were added in 2009.

SYRCL’s pilot project for assessing algae generates estimates of biomass for various types of periphyton over the spring to fall period, as flows permit. The protocol also involves the collection of physical data useful for characterizing differences between sites that may affect results.  The following table explains the types of data available in Yuba Shed’s Algae Topics.

Starting in 2010, SYRCL will be adopting the new Algae Assessment Protocol by SWAMP, while attempting to provide comparability with two years of pilot project data.

Heading

Description

Channel_width

channel width measured in meters

CC_pct

percent canopy cover

Depth

channel depth in cm

Dominant_subs

bed=bedrock, B=boulder, C=cobble, G=gravel, S=sand, 

Subs_index

Bed=bedrock=1, B=boulder=2, C=cobble=3, G=gravel=4, S=sand=5, silt/clays=6

 Subs_fine

percent of substrate less than 2 cm in size

Color_BB

percent brownish/blackish

Color_B

percent brown

Color_G

percent green algae

Color_ND

percent non-distinguishable

Color_NA

percent other

Filamentous_pct

percent filamentous algae

Mat_pct

percent mat algae

Film_pct

percent film algae

NA_pct

percent of unknown algae

BM_Rank

extent of growth on scale of 1(rough with no growth) to 7

BM_Cover

percent of substrate covered with algae

BI _mean

biomass index = rank x cover; mean BI of all transects per site

BI_stdev

the standard deviation of the biomass index