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Senior thesis of Alex Andon (Duke University class of 2006)

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One of the main goals of the Eno River State Park is to preserve natural habitats by creating buffers of protected land around the river. Presently, there are still unprotected parcels of land contiguous to the river that are potential sources of pollution and habitat degradation. This study is a bioassessment of the approximately 12-mile stretch of the Eno River that is within state park boundaries. We will determine if pollution sources are having negative effects on the river ecosystem by assessing the physical habitat, macrofauna diversity, and chemical indicators of water quality. My hypothesis is that river sections devoid of point-source pollution have complex habitats, diverse and abundant microfauna, and good water quality. This bioassessment will be carried out by dividing the river into transects and measuring the following in each transect:

i) Physical habitat characteristics (including pebble counts to quantify benthic habitat quality);

ii) Macroinvertebrate diversity, as biological indicators of ecosystem health;

iii) Chemical indicators of water quality, including dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, turbidity, flow and salinity.

This study will help the state park prioritize habitat protection by highlighting polluted areas of the river. Additionally, this survey will serve as a preliminary assessment of the river's health in a region near a dam that is slated to be dismantled in the fall of 2006. By collecting data prior to the dam's removal, we are in a position to make a comparison of habitats before and after the dam is dismantled.