Skip to content


    Jacks, Lily, Environmental Sciences, Juniata College, 1700 Moore St, Huntingdon, PA, 16652,; Merovich, George, Environmental Science and Studies, Juniata College,

     The Little Juniata River is a popular brown trout fishery, originating near Altoona, PA and draining into the larger Juniata River near Petersburg, PA. But many anthropogenic threats, especially those associated with agriculture and urbanization, threaten the health of this river, with previous findings showing the biological integrity of the Little Juniata to be surprisingly low at a number of sites, some samples with IBI scores as low as 16, indicating high degradation. We still understand little as to why these results, which contradict the renowned quality of the river’s trout fishery, exist.

    To try to explain this, we introduced in-depth water chemistry assessment, in addition to reassessment of the biological integrity of the previous sites. We wanted to test if the levels of aquatic contaminants might correspond with the IBI scores – or, specifically, if the low IBI sites would also show higher levels of contamination.  Additionally, 18 sites were added to our assessment on the Frankstown branch of the Juniata river, which originates south of the Little Juniata near Hollidaysburg, PA, to add to our understanding of ecological conditions within the larger watershed.While most of the contaminants we measured did not have concerning concentrations, we found elevated levels of lead at multiple sites along both branches of the Juniata.   Additionally, there was a strong spatial correlation between the contaminated sites, with higher concentrations occurring down-gradient. While this study is still in progress, with current IBI scores still being evaluated, these findings could help inform management practices on the LIttle Juniata River and help us understand where potential issues lie.

    Stream Ecology, Water Quality