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Evaluation of the Stream Reach Inventory and Channel Stability Index for Instream Habitat Analysis


In 1975, the Northern Region of the U.S. Forest Service developed an ocular watershed evaluation methodology entitled "Stream Reach Inventory and Channel Stability Index" (SRICSI). Designed primarily to assess the physical aspects of channel and streambank stability, the SRICSI's value as an aquatic habitat evaluation technique was basically unknown.

During the spring and summer of 1981, 17 representative study sites on two 2nd order montane streams were evaluated through application of the SRICSI procedure and three aquatic habitat assessment methodologies. Salmonid population estimates were also obtained for each site following electrofishing procedures.

Trout standing crop estimates were statistically compared to study site SRICSI scores, the results obtained from the three aquatic habitat evaluation procedures, and to data collected on 63 habitat-related independent variables.

Results indicate a significant relationship exists between SRICSI scores and trout population estimates and to two of the three habitat evaluation procedures. All observed correlations were negative, thereby suggesting that as SRICSI scores increase, trout standing crops and subsequent habitat condition decreases. Additionally, 40 of the 63 habitat variables also displayed significant correlations to trout standing crop data. Of the 40 variables found significant, 15 were selected for possible inclusion in the SRICSI. Inclusion of those variables found compatible with the SRICSI procedure should increase its biological sensitivity thereby broadening its use in aquatic habitat studies.

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