Characterizing spatial structure of sediment E-coli populations to inform sampling design

Gregory S. Piorkowski, Rob C. Jamieson, Lisbeth Truelstrup Hansen, Greg S. Bezanson, Chris K. Yost

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Escherichia coli can persist in streambed sediments and influence water quality monitoring programs through their resuspension into overlying waters. This study examined the spatial patterns in E. coli concentration and population structure within streambed morphological features during baseflow and following stormflow to inform sampling strategies for representative characterization of E. coli populations within a stream reach. E. coli concentrations in bed sediments were significantly different (p = 0.002) among monitoring sites during baseflow, and significant interactive effects (p = 0.002) occurred among monitoring sites and morphological features following stormflow. Least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) regression revealed that water velocity and effective particle size (D (10)) explained E. coli concentration during baseflow, whereas sediment organic carbon, water velocity and median particle diameter (D (50)) were important explanatory variables following stormflow. Principle Coordinate Analysis illustrated the site-scale differences in sediment E. coli populations between disconnected stream segments. Also, E. coli populations were similar among depositional features within a reach, but differed in relation to high velocity features (e.g., riffles). Canonical correspondence analysis resolved that E. coli population structure was primarily explained by spatial (26.9-31.7 %) over environmental variables (9.2-13.1 %). Spatial autocorrelation existed among monitoring sites and morphological features for both sampling events, and gradients in mean particle diameter and water velocity influenced E. coli population structure for the baseflow and stormflow sampling events, respectively. Representative characterization of streambed E. coli requires sampling of depositional and high velocity environments to accommodate strain selectivity among these features owing to sediment and water velocity heterogeneity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)277-291
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Environmental Science (all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Pollution
  • Clonal population
  • E. coli
  • Fluvial morphology
  • Sampling design
  • Sediment
  • Canonical Correspondence Analysis
  • Least absolute shrinkage and selection operators
  • Median particle diameters
  • Water quality monitoring
  • Deposition
  • Particle size
  • Plants (botany)
  • Sediments
  • Storms
  • Velocity
  • Water quality
  • Escherichia coli
  • baseflow
  • canonical analysis
  • clone
  • coliform bacterium
  • correspondence analysis
  • design
  • diameter
  • fluvial geomorphology
  • heterogeneity
  • organic carbon
  • particle size
  • population structure
  • sampling
  • stream bed
  • streamflow
  • article
  • bacterial count
  • bacterial strain
  • environmental monitoring
  • environmental parameters
  • hurricane
  • nonhuman
  • principal coordinate analysis
  • sediment
  • spatial analysis
  • spatial autocorrelation analysis
  • stream (river)
  • water contamination
  • water flow
  • E. COLI
  • environmental variable
  • influence water quality monitoring program
  • median particle diameter
  • streambed geomorphology
  • Facultatively Anaerobic Gram-Negative Rods Eubacteria Bacteria Microorganisms (Bacteria, Eubacteria, Microorganisms) - Enterobacteriaceae [06702] Escherichia coli species strain-ATCC 25922
  • carbon 7440-44-0
  • 04500, Mathematical biology and statistical methods
  • 31000, Physiology and biochemistry of bacteria
  • 37015, Public health - Air, water and soil pollution
  • Computational Biology
  • Canonical Correspondence Analysis mathematical and computer techniques
  • principle coordinate analysis mathematical and computer techniques
  • Mathematical Biology
  • Pollution Assessment Control and Management
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Geologic Sediments
  • Rivers
  • Water Microbiology
  • HASH(0x3da5740)

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