Bioassessment of Waccamaw tributaries




Tilly Swamp headwaters in Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve.

The Waccamaw River begins in southeastern NC, flows through the coastal plain of SC, and empties into Winyah Bay. This region is rapidly being developed as more people move to the greater Myrtle Beach area. In collaboration with Dr. Kevin Godwin (CCU Department of Biology) and CCU undergraduates Elizabeth Broyles and Scott Tomko, I am investigating the ecological condition of small streams draining into the Waccamaw River.  These small, low-gradient blackwater streams are naturally low in oxygen, which complicates detecting variation in stream fauna resulting from anthropogenic impacts. We are using the Coastal Plain Macroinvertebrate Index (CPMI; Maxted et al. 2000) to evaluate whether stream benthic macroinvertebrates respond to different types of land use in the Waccamaw drainage near Coastal Carolina University. Several streams differing in land use (forested, agriculture, pine plantation, and suburbs) are being studied.