Stream Habitat Measurement Techniques


Target Audience: 

Personnel with minimal stream experience involved with habitat assessment projects.  

Summary and Objectives: 

The purpose of this course is to provide the knowledge and skills required to participate in studies assessing physical habitat characteristics of streams. Techniques learned may be applied to a variety of programs including in-stream flow (e.g., IFIM), monitoring, restoration, habitat quality (e.g., HEP), and fish-habitat relationship studies. Classroom presentations (approximately 45%) are integrated with ample hands-on field activities (approximately 55%). Attributes characterized, measured, or identified include stream regional setting (ecoregion, watershed, hydrologic unit, and physiographic province), basin geomorphic properties, land cover types, hydrology, channel dimensions and roughness, channel  structure structure
Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish cleaning table, satellite dish/mount, or well head.

Learn more about structure
 and pattern, mesohabitat types, discharge, velocity, depth, substrate type and embeddedness, cover, bank condition, and  riparian riparian
Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

Learn more about riparian
 vegetation. Discussions and exercises will address additional topics as site selection, transect and sampling point placement, and reach mapping (cross-sectional, longitudinal, and plan views). From stream reach surveys, participants will complete a comprehensive written habitat assessment and classification for a nearby reach. Participants also will learn to operate equipment used to survey and measure habitat variables.  

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

  • Determine watershed regional setting and identification. 
  • Measure drainage basin characteristics. 
  • Take elevations using sight and laser-level surveying equipment. 
  • Conduct cross-section and longitudinal profile surveys of a stream reach. 
  • Identify and determine bankfull elevations. 
  • Take substrate measurements by point count and wet-sieving. 
  • Use spreadsheets to plot survey and substrate data. 
  • Take microhabitat measurements. 
  • Determine discharge return interval and exceedance values. 
  • Classify a stream reach using the Rosgen methodology.  

Competency Addressed: 

Field Data Collection - Intermediate, Fishery Biology - Intermediate, Surveying - Intermediate, Hydrology – Basic 

Course Short Name
Course Type
Training Tuition Cost
36 hours
Training Credit Hours
Semester Hours

Questions and Registration

Upcoming Sessions of this Course

Session date and time
Location Classroom
Shepherdstown, WV

Session Contact


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