Department or Program

Environmental Studies


This study investigated the relationship between macroinvertebrate community structure, land cover, and physical and chemical characteristics of eight tributary streams to Lake Sunapee, NH. Land use is primarily mixed deciduous forest, though there are pockets of agriculture. Given that development of the watershed has been increasing as a summer vacation destination, that the lake is used for drinking water, and that a major highway runs directly to the east of the lake, the condition of the tributaries is important to consider. Benthic macroinvertebrate community assemblages, widely used as indicators for water quality, were assessed through the use of rock baskets and leaf packs at each stream. Using a multimetric approach (Family Biotic Index, taxa richness per stream, Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera taxa richness, percent dominance of major taxa, functional feeding groups) macroinvertebrate assemblages were linked to land cover and abiotic characteristics. Macroinvertebrate assemblage composition differed across the streams, and chloride, conductivity, temperature, and bedload were the most important metrics in explaining this variability. Transportation was the most significant land cover variable in controlling many of these metrics. Nevertheless, the general uniformity of land cover across the watersheds meant that land use generally was not a good explanatory variable. Based on the tributaries studied, there appear to be two stream types surrounding Lake Sunapee, with one stream in particular as an outlier. Wetland and transportation seem to play a large role in structuring these differences. This study also makes clear the utility of certain metrics for Lake Sunapee tributaries.

Level of Access

Restricted: Embargoed [Bates Community After Expiration]

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 zip file with 16 pdf files


Available to Bates community via local IP address or Bates login.