The Monkey River baseline study
Esselman, Peter Christopher
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The Monkey River Baseline Study had three specific objectives: (1) to describe fish communities, river habitat, and water chemistry; (2) to characterize and map impact "hotspots" along the river; and (3) to modify and apply the United States Department of Agriculture stream visual assessment protocol (SVAP). Compositional attributes of the Monkey River fish assemblage showed clear distributional patterns, and assemblage structure related significantly to abiotic factors at local- and landscape-scales. A new spatially explicit methodology was developed to estimate the relative expected intensity of stresses to aquatic ecosystems based on mapped stress-sources along a river. Results of SVAP application indicated that the tool was well suited for application in southern Belize with minimal modifications. Recommendations for future work include expansion of baseline research to five additional watersheds in southern Belize, validation of predictions for impact mapping, and creation of a training program to promote consistency of SVAP application.