3.6 Linkages and relationships among objectives, attributes, and indicators

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Not all goals and objectives, or condition indicators are independent of each other and in some cases, one indicates a condition that affects another. Indicators are one method for efficiently characterizing conditions; overlap and directional or causal relationships among indicators may be useful in more integrated understanding of overall watershed condition.

Water temperature (Section 3.1.2) is both an indicator and a potential influence on periphyton growth (Section 3.1.1), benthic macroinvertebrates (Section 3.2.3), and fish communities (Section 3.2.4). Water temperature can in turn be influenced by flow alteration (Section 3.1.4), and urban & agricultural development (Section 3.2.2). Another example is pesticide use (Section 3.5.1), which may affect benthic macroinvertebrates (Section 3.2.3) and fish communities (Section 3.2.4). Pesticide use will be correlated with urban and agricultural development (Section 3.2.2).

These inter-dependencies are characteristic of collections of indicators that describe some aspect of integrated systems. They are likely to be tied to other indicators through the relationships among components of the system. Even human well-being may be tied to watershed conditions. When community economic condition is compared to subwatershed condition (minus economic condition), one would hope to find a positive relationship — improved economic condition is positively correlated with good subwatershed condition. In the Feather River Watershed, there is a hint that the opposite relationship applies (Figure 1), that economic conditions are best when subwatershed conditions are poor. This relationship is weak and may not be significant, however, it is not a positive relationship, suggesting that society needs to re-visit its relationship with the systems that provide it with sustenance and well-being.

Figure 1. Subwatershed economic condition compared to subwatershed condition, minus economic condition