Water Resources Professional Project Reports

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2020


Incorporating the process of adaptive management in rivers management can assist with mitigating impacts of altered streamflow and prevent loss of aquatic biodiversity. Streamflow regimes are important drivers of stream ecology and structuring adaptive management around benthic macroinvertebrates could be an efficient means to understand ecological responses to management of streamflow regime. Over the past decade, there has been interest in implementing adaptive management practices to managing stream flow in the Rio Chama below El Vado Dam in northern New Mexico. The goal of this research project is to improve understanding of environmental drivers shape the benthic macroinvertebrate communities in the Rio Chama below El Vado Dam, with the objectives of 1) assessing which water quality and physical habitat parameters may be driving the macroinvertebrate community structure in riffle habitats; 2) exploring differences between macroinvertebrate communities, water quality, and physical habitat parameters between sites below El Vado Dam and reference sites above the dam; and 3) examining how the water quality and physical habitat varies longitudinally downstream below El Vado Dam, and how that variability may impact macroinvertebrate community dynamics. Benthic macroinvertebrate, water quality, and physical habitat samples were collected from June 17- 23, 2018. Results showed that there was a dominance of slightly tolerant to tolerant taxa (name), as well as a dominance of collector-gatherer taxa (add name) at study and reference sites. the presence of these taxa indicated some impairment from turbidity and fine sediment is occurring in both study and reference reaches in the Rio Chama. These results provide insights about biological structure in the Rio Chama which may reduce some uncertainty in implementing adaptive management of the stream flow regime on the Rio Chama below El Vado Dam.


benthic macroinvertebrate communities, Rio Chama