Our specialty is macroinvertebrate taxonomy as it relates to biological monitoring and assessment.
The presence and condition of aquatic life can provide accurate information about the health and condition of waterbodies in which they are found. Bioassessments use these organisms to evaluate habitat conditions. Specifically, it is a technique that assesses biological integrity using quantitative analysis of the community present at a habitat of interest. Biological integrity refers to the quality of life that is supported by a habitat. Biomonitoring is the continued assessment of habitats where information on community structure in relation to habitat quality is already known.
Benthic macroinvertebrates are the most commonly used organisms for biological assessment of running waters because they are an extraordinarily diverse group of animals that occupy many ecological niches and have representatives of most ecologically functional groups from parasites to predators. Unlike fish that can escape in the event of a critical disturbance, many macroinvertebrates are subjected to the conditions in the habitat they reside. Therefore, the community structure will ultimately reflect whether disturbances persist because of the sole presence of disturbance tolerant organisms.
The macroinvertebrate community reflects food sources available in the forms of algae, diatoms, coarse particulate organic matter and enriched sediment. In turn, the macroinvertebrates are food sources for higher trophic groups such as fish. The types of food sources available will dictate which macroinvertebrates will be able to colonize a habitat and ultimately contribute to the types of fish, amphibians, and other higher organisms present. In other words, the community of benthic macroinvertebrates found in streams and other waterways ultimately signifies the quality of the habitat in which they reside.