Spring 2024

Document Type

Master's Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Applied Environmental Science


This study highlights the critical function that benthic macroinvertebrates (BMIs) play in monitoring ecological health and provides a thorough framework for creating metrics to evaluate the ecological integrity of wetlands on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation. This research aims to improve wetland management by introducing a multi-metric index (MMI) based on benthic macroinvertebrate taxonomy data, in light of the important ecological roles of inland freshwater wetlands, such as decomposition, biogeochemical cycling, and support for biodiversity. Along with the urgent need to address anthropogenic pressures that pose risks to these ecosystems, these wetlands are of cultural and environmental importance to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, which serves as the driving force behind this project. Based on ecological integrity, the study effectively isolates BMis vulnerable to ecological disturbances by statistical analysis and careful field sampling, creating a strong MMI that can distinguish between reference and degraded sites. Using the Quality Assurance Project Plan for Monitoring Assessment and Tracking of the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation Wetland Resources, the technique includes a thorough analysis of 34 wetlands. To ensure that the BMI measurements adequately reflect the health of the wetland in the face of natural environmental conditions and human activities, the research combines several statistical and modeling techniques. This approach produces a set of five essential measures that together constitute the MMI, enabling an evaluation of the ecological integrity of wetlands. The findings give the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe a useful tool for making educated decisions about land management in addition to making a substantial contribution to the area of environmental science. Prospective research avenues encompass investigating the applicability of MMI in various wetland ecosystems and incorporating socio-economic, cultural, and ecological elements to develop all-encompassing wetland management approaches.