BOX 4-5

NAWQA Science Plan, Goal 3 and Objectives

Goal 3: Determine the relative effects, mechanisms of activity, and management implications of multiple stressors in aquatic ecosystems.

Essential Objectives:

3b. Determine the levels of nutrient enrichment that initiate ecological impairment, what ecological properties are affected, and which environmental indicators best identify the effects of nutrient enrichment on aquatic ecosystems.

3c. Determine how changes to suspended and depositional sediment impair stream ecosystems, which ecological properties are affected, and what measures are most appropriate to identify impairment.

3d. Determine the effects of streamflow alteration on stream ecosystems and the physical and chemical mechanisms by which streamflow alteration causes degradation.

Important but Not Essential Objectives:

3a. Determine the effects of contaminants on degradation of stream ecosystems, which contaminants have the greatest effects in different environmental settings and seasons, and evaluate which measures of contaminant exposure are the most useful for assessing potential effects.

3e. Evaluate the relative influences of multiple stressors on stream ecosystems in different regions that are under varying land uses and management practices.

SOURCE: Design of Cycle 3 of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program, 2013-2023: Part 2: Science Plan for Improved Water-Quality Information and Management; January 28 2011.

Studies described under this objective not only are relevant to current issues of altered streamflow, but also will be an essential component of NAWQA’s analyses of impacts of climate change on water quality and stream ecosystems. These studies capitalize on the extensive body of streamflow data unique to USGS and include collaboration with others working on this issue at different scales.

Goal 4 Future Predictions: Objectives “a” (evaluate suitability of existing models for future scenarios) and “b” (develop decision support tools)

The essence of Goal 4 is the extension of NAWQA modeling work using knowledge gained in pursuit of Goals 1-3 (Box 4-6). This is a major

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