Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Meiyin Wu

Committee Member

Scott Kight

Committee Member

Josh Galster


Increase in development throughout the Northern Piedmont region of New Jersey since the 1970’s has greatly degraded much of the natural environment throughout the state. Certain regulations are currently in place to reduce this development’s impact on New Jersey’s streams at a local (riparian) scale, however it may also be important to examine these impacts at a regional (drainage basin) scale. We examined the aquatic macroinvertebrate assemblages at seven sites along the Upper Passaic River of New Jersey to assess their ecological health and compare to the corresponding drainage basin characteristics at each site. The sites ranged in location from the headwaters of the Passaic River in Mendham New Jersey to just upstream from the first man-made dam in Passaic New Jersey, varying greatly in drainage basin characteristics and levels of development. The USGS StreamStats web application was used to calculate drainage basins and characteristics for each site. The Basking Ridge Site (1BR) yielded substantially different basin characteristics with the highest percent forest and lowest percent impervious and population density among the sites. A total of 2,214 aquatic macroinvertebrate individuals were collected an identified to the taxonomic level of family and used to calculate individual metrics including taxa richness, Shannon Wiener Index of Biodiversity, Mean Pollution Tolerance Values (MPTV), Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera (EPT) richness, percent EPT, and percent non-insect and well as the multiple metric index known as New Jersey’s High Gradient Macroinvertebrate Index (HGMI(fam)). It was seen that 1BR had the highest HGMI(fam) score throughout all three sample seasons (fall 65.32, spring 82.22, and summer 72.05) and was the only site to have scores classifying it as having “excellent” biotic health. Although a majority of the sites contained large intact riparian zones, drainage basin characteristics associated with development, such as low percent forest, low average permeability of soil and high population density, all had a negatively effect on the aquatic macroinvertebrate assemblage metrics analyzed at each site. This suggests that stream health is impacted not only at a local (riparian) scale but also at regional (drainage basin scale).

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Biology Commons