Texas Stream Team developed a new training program that educates citizen scientists about the importance of using benthic macroinvertebrates, small aquatic animals, as indicators of the biological condition of waterbodies. Benthic macroinvertebrates are used to assess the long-term water quality of a stream because many species are sensitive to pollution and sudden changes in their environment.

The assessment utilized, known as rapid bioassessment, is a relatively inexpensive screening tool which uses freshwater macroinvertebrates, fish, and habitat to determine the quality of a riparian ecosystem. Biomonitors assess the health of lakes, rivers, streams or estuaries based on the riparian habitat and the aquatic insects present. Data will be coupled with water quality data and used to track ecosystem and habitat health over time in the rivers and streams that flow to the Texas Coast.

The Texas Stream Team Rapid Macroinvertebrate Bioassessment protocols were developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and adopted by Texas Stream Team. Citizen scientist biological monitoring requires the program’s three-phase Bioassessment Training, which includes an overview of Texas Stream Team, monitoring techniques, and quality assurance tests.

Participants must successfully complete a three-phase training program:

• Phase I – Introduction to the program, watersheds, aquatic-related pollution, stream habitats, abundance and diversity of aquatic macroinvertebrates as an indication of overall stream quality, and biological monitoring to quickly assess both habitat and long-term water quality;

• Phase II – Introduction to field observations, determining stream type and sampling location, sample collection procedures methodology, classification of aquatic insects, calculating results, and conducting monitoring with the assistance of trainer(s);

• Phase III – Conducting monitoring without the assistance of trainer(s).

For more information about this program, please visit our Biomonitors webpage or feel free to contact us at TxStreamTeam@txstate.edu.

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