Aquatic Community Classification

The Pennsylvania Aquatic Community Classification (ACC) project describes patterns in aquatic biodiversity to help conservation activities and aquatic resource management in the region.

In order to address the threats faced by our region’s flowing waters, the ACC was designed to systematically identify stream community and habitat types for the freshwater mussels, macroinvertebrates and fish that live in Pennsylvania’s streams. This information provides a baseline for conserving flowing water systems and can be used to help assess the status of streams and rivers, prioritize high quality aquatic habitats for preservation, and select low quality habitats for restoration.

Components of the ACC:

  • A biological classification system to identify stream types based on freshwater mussels, macroinvertebrates and fish; Introduction to Communities
  • A physical stream habitat classification, describing major stream habitat types; Physical Stream Types
  • A selection of streams in the region that have the least amount of disturbance in their watersheds; Least-Disturbed Streams
  • Watersheds represented with high biodiversity and stream quality were ranked as conservation priorities;Watershed Conservation Priorities
  • Watersheds with severe water quality issues and/or low biological diversity were designated as restoration priorities; Watershed Restoration Priorities
  • Watersheds that showed slight landscape disturbances were selected as prime candidates for habitat enhancement areas; Watershed Enhancement Areas
  • A complete set of downloadable GIS data that corresponds with all ACC information, available statewide or by watershed GIS Data Download Page.

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