Reference Condition Approach bioassessment programs have been in place in the northern and Muskoka regions of Ontario, Canada, for many years. Assessments are carried out regularly to evaluate and monitor the effects of a variety of activities, including mining, forestry, and cottage development. These programs are run by the Co-operative Freshwater Ecology Unit (CFEU) at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada, and the Dorset Environmental Science Centre (DESC) in Muskoka, Canada. We applied 2 bioassessment methods used at the CFEU and DESC to 3 data sets that were subjected to simulated impact by nutrient enrichments to compare their performance with a number of other bioassessment methods. We used Assessment by Nearest Neighbour Analysis (ANNA) and a Redundancy Analysis (RDA) variation of ANNA with Test Site Analysis (TSA) to identify subsets of reference sites to compare with a given simulated impact test site based on habitat matching. We compared the benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) communities and evaluated the differences between the validation and training sites to assess the degree of impairment. After assessing all impacted sites, we calculated Type 1 and Type 2 error rates. ANNA and RDA separated sites with different levels of simulated impact in an Australian data set of diverse benthic macroinvertebrate communities distributed along a habitat gradient. In contrast, our assessments did not perform well with 2 data sets for which the simulation did not behave as expected, perhaps because of impoverished communities.
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Vol. 33 • No. 4