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Federal water pollution control legislation strongly emphasizes the need to protect aquatic life from adverse effects of effluents. Effluent biomonitoring, therefore, plays an important role in the federal water pollution control program, and includes two basic functions: (1) measurement of the toxicity and biostimulatory properties of effluents, and (2) measurement of the effects of effluents on the biological integrity of receiving waters, which includes the abundance, species composition, metabolism, and condition of indigenous aquatic organisms. Standardized methods for sample collection and preparation are widely available. However, additional tools are urgently needed to assist biologists in sample analysis and data interpretation. The tools needed include species identification manuals, information on the life histories of aquatic organisms, and descriptive models with which to evaluate field data. The models would describe the standing crop, species composition, and community metabolism expected at a given sampling station in the absence of pollution, taking into account the season of the year, climate, ambient meteorological and hydrological conditions, water chemistry, and the nature of the substrate. Effective data interpretation also requires utilization of available parametric and nonparametric methods for statistical analyses of the field data in order to determine the significance of observed differences in the properties of aquatic communities at “control” and “polluted” sampling stations.
water pollution, biomonitoring, effluents, biological integrity, toxicity tests, aquatic organisms, ecology
Chief, Environmental Monitoring and Support Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio