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South Atlantic Water Science Center

Santee River Basin Study
Ecological Activities and Data



Since spring 1995, the ecology group of the Santee River Basin and Coastal Drainages study area has been collecting specimens of fish, macroinvertebrates, and algae; studying habitat structure; and assembling fluvial geomorphologic information.

The first accomplishment was a reconnaissance of the study area and the selection of nineteen intensive study sites at thirteen streams/rivers. Ten additional sites were designated for one-time collection. These sites are representative of four distinct ecoregions and a variety of  land-uses.

Sediment and tissue samples were collected from all twenty-nine sites. Sediment samples were collected following a carefully proscribed protocol which is used by all NAWQA units. Tissue samples were collected by taking Asiatic clams (Corbicula fluminea) at each site, when present.

Sediment and tissue samples were sent to the USGS National Water Quality Laboratory in Arvada, Colorado, for analysis. Analyses conducted included trace elements and organic compounds. All of these bed sediment and tissue collections were completed by the end of 1995.

During 1996 and 1997, fish, algae, and macroinvertebrates were collected at 17 of the 19 sites. The remaining sites are scheduled for collection in 1998. Both macroinvertebrates and algae were collected by hand following standardized NAWQA protocols. Three electrofishing devices were employed in collecting fish: a backpack-mounted shocker for use in small, shallow streams; a barge shocker (small platform boat with a generator mounted on board), used in larger, deeper, wadeable streams; and a boat-mounted shocker, for use in deep, wide, non-wadeable streams and rivers. All fish were weighed, measured, and examined for anomalies (lesions, tumors, and parasites). About 10 percent of all fish collected were retained as voucher specimens. The remainder was released. To date, 74 species of fish have been identified in the study area.

Habitat information and data on stream morphology and characteristics (fluvial geomorphology) has been accumulated for each site. The data which was collected included: depth, width, velocity, substrate composition, temperature, bank characteristic, riparian zone tree species composition and density, and a number of other specifics.

In addition to the NAWQA study sites, three other sites were selected for intense ecological study. In a cooperative effort with the National Park Service, three tributaries to the Congaree Swamp National Monument are being studied in the same manner as the NAWQA sites.

Work will continue through 1998 to complete a third year of high-intensity data collection. Analyses of preliminary data and report-writing activities have commenced. Reports are planned for release in 1999 and 2000.


Fish data collection

Fish data collection

Fish data collection

Fish data collection

Fish data collection

Discharge measurement

Data ¹

Sediment Trace Element and Organic Compounds

Tissue Trace Element and Organic Compounds

SANT NAWQA selected biological sites -- Table of Characteristics

¹ Data are considered PROVISIONAL