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USGS scientists deploy SPMD and POCIS samplers to collect waterborne contaminants in Manoa Stream on Oahu, Hawaii.


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National Field Manual for the Collection of Water-Quality Data (TWRI Book 9)

Chapter A10. Lakes and Reservoirs: Guidelines for Study Design and Sampling [5.80 MB PDF]

By W. Reed Green, Dale M. Robertson, and Franceska D. Wilde

This report is in pdf format. Download a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.


The National Field Manual for the Collection of Water-Quality Data (National Field Manual, NFM) is an online report with separately published chapters that provides the protocols and guidelines by which U.S. Geological Survey personnel obtain the data used to assess the quality of the Nationís surface-water and groundwater resources. Chapter 10 reviews limnological principles, describes the characteristics that distinguish lakes from reservoirs, and provides guidance for developing temporal and spatial sampling strategies and data-collection approaches to be used in lake and reservoir environmental investigations.

Within this chapter are references to other chapters of the NFM that provide more detailed guidelines related to specific topics and more detailed protocols for the quality assurance and assessment of the lake and reservoir data. Protocols and procedures to address and document the quality of lake and reservoir investigations are adapted from, or referenced to, the protocols and standard operating procedures contained in related chapters of this National Field Manual.

Sections of Chapter A10:




Purpose and scope

10.1 Basic Limnology

10.1.1 Physical and Chemical Limnology

10.1.1.A Light and Water Clarity

10.1.1.B Temperature and Stratification

10.1.1.C pH

10.1.1.D Dissolved Oxygen

10.1.1.E Phosphorus and Nitrogen

10.1.1.F Chlorophyll a

10.1.2 Trophic Classification

10.1.3 Biological Limnology

10.1.3.A Littoral Zone

10.1.3.B Pelagic Zone

10.1.3.C Profundal Zone

10.2 Comparative Properties of Lakes and Reservoirs

10.2.1 Spatial and Temporal Heterogeneity

10.2.2 Reservoir Aging

10.3 General Considerations for Study Design

10.3.1 Common Study Types

10.3.1.A Reconnaissance Studies

10.3.1.B Diagnostic Studies

10.3.1.C Interpretive Studies

10.3.2 Sampling Strategies and Approaches

10.3.2.A What to Sample

10.3.1.B How Many Samples to Collect

10.3.1.C Where to Sample: Systematic, Random, and Stratified Approaches

10.3.2.D When to Sample: Seasonal and Diurnal Considerations

10.4 Preparations for Data Collection: Data Management and Safety Precautions

10.4.1 Site Files

10.4.2 Safety Precautions

10.5 Field-Measured Properties

10.5.1 Light Attenuation

10.5.2 Multiparameter Instrument Sondes

10.5.2.A Temperature, Dissolved Oxygen, pH, Specific Electrical Conductance, and Turbidity

10.5.2.B Algal Biomass: Photosynthetic Pigments

10.5.2.C Ultraviolet Nitrate Sensors

10.5.3 Methods of Sonde Deployment

10.5.3.A Profiling

10.5.3.B Water-Quality Monitoring Platforms with Continuous Sensors or Multiparameter Sondes

10.6 Sampling in the Water Column

10.7 Sampling Bottom Material

10.8.Sampling Biological Components

10.8.1 Phytoplankton

10.8.1.A Sample Collection

10.8.1.B Ancillary Data

10.8.2 Zooplankton

10.8.1.A Sample Collection

10.8.1.B. Ancillary Data

10.8.3 Microorganisms

10.8.3.A Fecal Indicator Bacteria

10.8.3.B Fecal Indicator Viruses

10.8.3.C Protozoan Pathogens

10.8.4 Benthic Fauna

10.8.4.A Sample Collection

10.8.1.B Ancillary Data and Sample Processing

10.8.5 Macrophytes

10.8.5.A Sample Collection and Processing

10.8.5.B. Ancillary Data

10.8.6 Fish

10.8.6.A Sample Collection and Processing

10.8.6.B Ancillary Data




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For more information

Submit a question or comment related to this National Field Manual. For general water-quality questions, contact the USGS Office of Water Quality.

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