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Sediment is one of the primary stressors of concern for Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for streams, and often it is a concern because of its impact on ecological endpoints. A modeling approach relating sediment to stream fish population dynamics is presented. Equations are developed to characterize effects of sediment on survival and reproduction, and these vital rates are incorporated into an age-structured population matrix model. The matrix model can be used to calculate the long-term population growth rate, and to project population dynamics. An example application for a darter species, a species that is likely to be most sensitive to sediment impacts, is presented. This approach can be used in TMDL development: a target sediment level may be set based on the criterion that the long term fish population growth-rate is positive, and a margin of safety can be estimated by including variability in the matrix model. Models that simulate the response of ecological endpoints to sediment can provide additional management approaches for impaired streams.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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