Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Vicki J. Watson

Commitee Members

Len Broberg, George Furniss


stream ecology, MPG Ranch, reference stream, macroinvertebrates


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


Many riparian areas in the western United States have been degraded by grazing and logging. In the year 2000, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) re-initiated an effort to identify and characterize reference streams, or least impacted streams in each region of the state. In Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, most streams have been impacted by grazing, irrigation, and timber production. The Montana DEQ has not been able to identify reference streams in the Sapphire Mountains on the east side of this valley. MPG Ranch, located on the west-facing slopes of the Sapphire Mountains and purchased in 2009 by a conservation-minded landowner, has three previously unstudied streams, which are likely candidates for Montana DEQ reference streams. Hence, physical, chemical and biological data were collected at Davis, Woodchuck, and Tongue Creeks on MPG Ranch in the summer of 2015 to assess the potential of these streams to serve as reference streams and to establish a baseline for the ranch as managers of MPG work to restore ecosystems there. Key data collected includes levels of nutrients, benthic algal biomass, community composition of macroinvertebrates, temperature, pH, flow, slope, and other physical parameters of each stream. Results from this study suggest that Davis and Woodchuck Creek should be considered for further research as reference streams for the west-facing slopes of the Sapphire Mountains.



© Copyright 2016 Morgan Vinyard