Chapter 23 USEPA biomonitoring and bioindicator concepts needed to evaluate the biological integrity of aquatic systems

James M. Lazorchak, Brian H. Hill, Barbara S. Brown, Frank H. McCormick, Virginia Engle, David J. Lattier, Mark J. Bagley, Michael B. Griffith, Anthony F. Maciorowski, Greg P. Toth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This chapter presents the current uses, concepts and anticipated future directions of biomonitoring and bioindicators in the regulatory and research programs of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The chapter provides a historical look on how biomonitoring and bioindicators evolved in the USEPA or its predecessor agencies from the 1960s - 1980s, then describes two current key biomonitoring and bioindicator programmes, the USEPA Office of Research and Development's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Programme (EMAP) and USEPA's Office of Water's Biocriteria Programme. The remainder of the chapter is organized hierarchically beginning with concepts and monitoring approaches using fish, macroinvertebrates, and periphyton assemblages, and functional ecosystem measures. The assemblage approaches are followed by current research and regulatory use of whole organism toxicity testing assessments for measuring contamination in aquatic environments and remediation assessment. The chapter includes existing and proposed activities in the use of real-time biomonitoring to assess biological exposures to contaminants and other environmental changes. A new approach that uses small and large adult whole fish tissue as a bioindicator for assessing potential contaminant exposures to wildlife is presented, followed by a description of new research in molecular approaches to biomonitoring and bioindicators through measures of gene expression, use of microarrays and measures of genetic diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-874
Number of pages44
JournalTrace Metals and other Contaminants in the Environment
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Algae
  • Bioindicators
  • Biomonitoring
  • Fish
  • Freshwater
  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Marine
  • Molecular
  • Real-time


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