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

Robert Prezant

Committee Member

Josh Galster

Committee Member

Steve Domber


Springs--New Jersey--Environmental conditions, Biotic communities--New Jersey, Groundwater flow-- New Jersey


The springs included as part of this study are lotic systems where groundwater discharges to the surface. Spring water quality is influenced by the discharge and geologic origins of a spring. Biological indicators, such as aquatic macroinvertebrates, are used to assess the health of spring ecosystems due to their sensitivity to pollution. Currently, there are no published studies on the aquatic macroinvertebrate assemblages in New Jersey springs. The objective of this study was to examine macroinvertebrate assemblages of New Jersey springs and to investigate the effects of geologic and hydrologic variables on macroinvertebrate community assemblages. We hypothesized that springs with greater discharge and carbonate springs exhibit good water quality and greater biodiversity. Macroinvertebrate assemblages of six springs in New Jersey were studied from August 2014 to March 2015. The spring sites varied by discharge (two sites had 3rd discharge magnitude, one had 5th and three had 6th) and bedrock geology (four springs discharge from carbonate aquifers and two from non-carbonate aquifers). Macroinvertebrate samples were collected with a Hess sampler once per season during summer and fall 2014 and spring 2015. A total of 1,497 macroinvertebrate individuals were collected, of which Chironomidae (Diptera) were the most abundant. Other dominant taxa included Optioservus spp. (Coleoptera), Gammarus fasciatus (Amphipoda) and Caecidotea spp. (Isopoda). The results indicate that higher discharge springs had higher macroinvertebrate diversities, higher presence of pollution sensitive species and good water quality when compared to low discharge springs. Functional feeding group results suggested connections between coarse particulate organic matter and high discharge velocity springs as well as fine particulate organic matter and low discharge velocity springs. Carbonate springs had higher pollution sensitive species than non-carbonate springs. This study found diverse macroinvertebrate communities in New Jersey springs and suggested that spring hydrology and geology affect macroinvertebrate assemblages. Routine monitoring is recommended for spring macroinvertebrate communities.

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