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Macroinvertebrate Biotic Index (MBI) Assessment: A Comparison of Sites Upstream, Within, and Downstream of Towns Along Three Central Kansas Waterways

Faculty Supervisor:
Jon Piper
Year of Project Completion:
Erin Wite


A senior thesis project, paper, and presentation fulfilling requirements for majors in biology and psychology Water quality has become an issue of increasing importance over the last several decades with the rise of the “Green living” movement and implantation of newly passed federal regulations. Greater focus on environmental issues at large requires a finer look at the ecological implications of urban development and agriculture. Pollution, chemical run off, sedimentation, and heavy metal contamination are only a few of the ways in which humans are degrading the native waterways that sustain all life on earth. In this study water quality assessments were made using the macroinvertebrate biotic index (MBI), based on macroinvertebrate and freshwater mussel community distribution in three Kansas waterways. Three sample sites per creek were assessed on Sand Creek through Newton, Middle Emma Creek through Hesston, and the Little Arkansas River through Halstead. Sites include one upstream, within town, and downstream site on each creek. The results indicated that out of the three waterways assessed Sand Creek through Newton had the best water quality, that within town sites had the best water quality and that of the eight sites the best site overall according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) MBI score was the upstream Little Arkansas River site and the within town Sand Creek site was the best according to the Kansas MBI score. In addition this study highlighted the major effect that a mussel community presence can have on an MBI rating. This study used benthic organisms as indicators of water quality to assess aquatic ecosystem health in limited reaches of three central Kansas waterways.

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.