ABSTRACT Habitat characterization is part of a multidisciplinary approach to water-quality assessment implemented by the National Water-Quality Assessment Program. Habitat data were collected in the Georgia-Florida Coastal Plain study unit at 24 sites during 1993-95. Data were collected for habitat characteristics at three spatial scales: basin, segment, and reach. Basin data include physiography, land resource provinces, and land use, providing a description of the environmental setting at each site. Segment data include length, gradient, and sinuosity. A Kendall correlation analysis performed on segment characteristics and the log-of-basin area showed a correlation between segment gradient and the log-of-basin area and a correlation between sinuosity and segment length.
Reach data consist of field-collected measurements of both instream and riparian habitats. Sand and detritus were the most common channel-bed substrates among the sampled sites. Measurements of channel width, water depth, and bank width and height were used to create cross-sectional profiles of each sampled area. Elevations of selected durations plotted on cross sections illustrated the percentage of time that the banks were inundated at each site. Sites were divided into two groups based on duration of bank inundation (less than or equal to 1 percent and greater than 1 percent). Bank woody vegetation was also sampled and a clustering algorithm known as Two-Way INdicator SPecies ANalysis (TWINSPAN) was used to analyze these data. TWINSPAN divided the sites into two groups based on their vegetation composition. A statistical comparison of the two types of site groups (duration of bank inundation and vegetation) was performed. The significant association between these groups was consistent with the hypothesis that inundation frequency affected riparian vegetation.