Assessment of Lotic Macroinvertebrate Assemblage in the Oconaluftee River Basin in Cherokee, North CarolinaSierra B. Benfield, Shem D. Unger
Macroinvertebrate assemblage assessments act as useful analysis tools for assessing aquatic ecosystems health. These animals also serve as a base trophic level, acting as a source of food for many other aquatic organisms including fish and salamanders. Obtaining baseline data for monitoring aquatic insects and subsequent river health is vital to understand food chains and river ecological interactions. We sampled macroinvertebrate communities in two streams in the Oconaluftee River basin, in the Cherokee Qualla, North Carolina. Over 600 macroinvertebrates were collected and identified to the lowest taxonomic level possible, providing a macroinvertebrate profile of both riffle and run habitats. We identified over 35 genera and report on functional feeding groups, with biotic indices of water quality. Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera values varied, 21% and 65.43% for Raven’s Fork and 22% and 79.06% for the Oconaluftee rivers. This macroinvertebrate community suggests healthy stream aquatic insects and above average water quality, in spite of the urban land use found in the riparian zones of the sample sites. This research can be used as a baseline for future monitoring of aquatic streams in the area of the Cherokee Qualla.