Biological community samples (fish, invertebrates, algae) are collected in streams and rivers as part of ecological studies in the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. Information from these ecological studies, together with chemical and physical data, provide an integrated assessment of water quality at local, regional, and national scales. During the program's first decade of operation (1991 - 2001), ecological studies were conducted to assess the occurrence and distribution of algal, invertebrate, and fish communities in about 59 study units (Gilliom and others, 1995). In the second decade of the program (2001 - 2011), biological community samples will be collected at selected sites to provide long-term trends monitoring. Ecological studies are also part of nationally guided studies addressing selected water-quality issues such as the effects of watershed urbanization on nutrient enrichment and stream ecosystems.
NAWQA users should now access biological data through the newly released BioData retrieval system.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) BioData Retrieval system provides access to aquatic bioassessment data (biological community and physical habitat data) collected by USGS scientists from stream ecosystems across the nation. USGS scientists collect fish-, aquatic macroinvertebrate-, and algae-community samples and conduct stream physical habitat surveys as part of its fundamental mission to describe and understand the Earth. The publicly available BioData Retrieval system disseminates data from over 15,000 fish, aquatic macroinvertebrate, and algae community samples. Additionally, the system serves data from over 5000 physical data sets (samples), such as reach habitat and light availability, that were collected to support the community sample analyses. The system contains sample data that were collected and processed since 1991 using the protocols of the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA). As of 2010, the system has added data collected by USGS scientists using the procedures and protocols of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Rivers and Streams Assessment program (NRSA).
Scientists, resource managers, teachers, and the public can retrieve data using an online query. BioData Retrieval allows one to find the data of interest based on criteria (filters) such as data type, location, date, or taxonomy. Selected retrieval criteria can be saved to a computer desktop for future queries. Data retrievals are organized in data set tables with a defined column headings. The requested data can be downloaded in several formats.