Invertebrate monitoring has been an ongoing activity in Stoney Creek since 1997. We use the protocol outlined in the Streamkeepers’ Handbook (Module 4). We compare invertebrate populations between locations, season, and monitor changes in these populations over time. In the future, invertebrate sampling may also be used to monitor areas where periodic poor water quality has been reported.
Aquatic invertebrates have an important role in the ecological functioning of streams. They help break down organic matter such as woody debris, which provide usable nutrients to other aquatic life. They eat microscopic plants, and are the primary source of food for fish and some birds, amphibians, and small mammals that live in the area.
Aquatic invertebrates include insects, which live part of their lifecycle in the water, and crustaceans such snails, and crayfish. Aquatic invertebrates are being used by researchers more extensively as a way to monitor stream health. If water quality is poor, pollution sensitive invertebrates perish, while others, which are pollution tolerant, increase in numbers.
They are also sensitive to physical changes such as increases in siltation or water temperature. In addition, catastrophic events such as chemical spills can often be detected by a complete absence of stream invertebrate populations. By measuring the presence, absence and abundance of different species, habitat problems can often be detected.
What you can expect to see and hear
Sampling is conducted in two parts: collection of samples and identification/ counting of species found. The former is conducted by two separate teams if possible, in specific areas of Stoney Creek and its tributaries using a surber net. The samples are then brought back to the Centre, where a team of volunteers separate the various invertebrates found into species and then identifies and counts all the samples collected.
Bruce and Alan
Usually from May to July
Check out our Calendar for future dates.
(numbers may be limited due to COVID-19 situation)
– Aquatic Insects—Life in Freshwater
– Pacific Streamkeepers’ Federation—Streamkeepers’ Manual