Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment



First Advisor

Dr. Chris Barton

Second Advisor

Dr. Charles Fox


Freshwater is a resource under threat due to anthropogenic actions. Stream restoration is a common method for mitigating disturbance. Inconsistent methodologies used for evaluating restorations have drawn criticism. Limited use of baseline data for guiding stream restoration activities is of particular concern. This study was developed to elucidate metrics that differentiate reference and disturbed sites in Upper Coastal Plain streams. This information could improve resource use and successes of restorations. Structural and functional variables were examined in 10 reference and 10 streams that meet the traditional definition of disturbance and would be restoration priorities. Disturbed streams were classified into two regimes, temporal, based on time since disturbance, and categorical, based on disturbance cause. Some metrics of geomorphology, water chemistry and macroinvertebrates differentiated reference from disturbed regimes and while other metrics separated streams within disturbance regimes. Surprisingly, leaf decay rate was not an effective metric for determining disturbance. However, macroinvertebrate leaf pack colonizers were found to be useful for differentiating reference sites and disturbance regimes. Of the 10 disturbed streams this study examined, my data suggests that only three are in immediate need of restoration. This study emphasizes the importance of baseline data and its potential benefits for guiding stream restoration.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)