Towards a regional index of biological integrity: The example of forested riparian ecosystems

Robert P. Brooks, Timothy J. O'Connell, Denice H. Wardrop, Laura E. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Our premise is that measures of ecological indicators and habitat conditions will vary between reference standard sites and reference sites that are impacted, and that these measures can be applied consistently across a regional gradient in the form of a Regional Index of Biological Integrity (RIBI). Six principles are proposed to guide development of any RIBI: 1) biological communities with high integrity are the desired endpoints; 2) indicators can have a biological, physical, or chemical basis; 3) indicators should be tied to specific stressors that can be realistically managed; 4) linkages across geographic scales and ecosystems should be provided; 5) reference standards should be used to define target conditions; and 6) assessment protocols should be efficiently and rapidly applied. To illustrate how a RIBI might be developed, we show how four integrative bioindicators can be combined to develop a RIBI for forest riparian ecosystems in the Mid-Atlantic states: 1) macroinvertebrate communities, 2) amphibian communities, 3) avian communities, and 4) avian productivity, primarily for the Louisiana waterthrush (Seirius motacilla). By providing a reliable expression of environmental stress or change, a RIBI can help managers reach scientifically defensible decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-143
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1998
EventProceedings of the 1997 3rd Symposium on the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program, EMAP - Albany, NY, USA
Duration: Apr 8 1997Apr 11 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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