Freshwater Biomonitoring Using Benthic Macroinvertebrates


Target Audience:

Biologists with some experience in aquatic ecology and invertebrates who are looking to develop or enhance their specialization in biomonitoring with macroinvertebrates, especially for evaluation of stream habitat restoration projects or other site remediation efforts.

Summary and Objectives:

This course presents practices and concepts of using macroinvertebrates to monitor the environmental health or integrity of freshwater ecosystems. During this field-based course, participants will be directed to properly sample, identify benthic macroinvertebrates (usually to the family level), and use multimetric indices to assess biotic integrity of a number of stream locations. Sites will comprise a range of impairment levels and stream sizes. Discussion will focus upon multimetric index development, and the effects of different types of pollution and environmental stress on assemblages of organisms and underlying ecological principles.

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Explain study and sampling designs.
  • Demonstrate the proper use of a wide variety of sampling equipment.
  • Apply ecological principles and important aspects of macroinvertebrate ecology that are included in the concept of biological integrity.
  • Explain and practice contemporary methods for analyzing data and reaching conclusions about the status of biological integrity. Key techniques or concepts include: metrics, multimetric indices, multivariate analyses, and delineation of reference or impaired condition; with emphasis on the evaluation of stream habitat restoration projects
  • Describe the major types of pollution and environmental stressors, their causes, and what effects these stressors have on benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages
  • Identify the advantages and disadvantages of using macroinvertebrates, with emphasis on the evaluation of stream habitat restoration projects 


Ability to identify aquatic macroinvertebrates as provided in Macroinvertebrate Ecology and Identification, CSP2221 is recommended.

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