Technical and Educational Aspects of Stream Biomonitoring Protocols for Teachers and Citizen Monitors in Alabama
Type of DegreeThesis
DepartmentFisheries and Allied Aquacultures
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Accuracy of the Alabama Water Watch (AWW) Stream Biomonitoring Protocol for citizen monitors was assessed through a desktop study comparing simulated AWW stream quality assessments to known professional bioassessments. Additional citizen methods researched were the Choctawhatchee Riverkeepers, the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream, and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection volunteer macroinvertebrate protocols. Simulated protocol accuracy for all four citizen methods compared to professional stream biologists ranged from about 35 to 53%. AWW protocol accuracy was increased from about 35 to 60% through strategic modifications to the AWW Stream Biomonitoring Protocol. All but 5% of inaccurate simulated assessments with the modified AWW protocol were within one stream quality category difference (i.e., categories: excellent, good, fair, poor). An educational curriculum for secondary (middle and high school) science teachers and their students, based on the AWW Stream Biomonitoring Protocol was developed concurrently, piloted, and implemented to address nonpoint source pollution in Alabama. Science Education students from a local university and AWW volunteer monitoring groups were connected with classrooms for curriculum implementation. The curriculum was piloted in ten classrooms in Alabama over a two-year period. The final curriculum, Alabama’s Living Streams: Stream Biomonitoring was presented to about 75 educators through four aquatic science workshops held jointly by AWW staff and multiple natural resource educators. Project evaluation suggested the curriculum provided an avenue for overcoming inadequate teacher training in aquatic science and water quality while creating a valuable community support network for educators.