Aquatic Invertebrate Monitoring at George Washington Carver National Monument

Carver Branch at George Washington Carver National Monument
Carver Branch at George Washington Carver National Monument.


Scientists use established methods to track aquatic invertebrates and assess stream water quality conditions. Aquatic invertebrates can include insect larvae, worms, crayfish, snails, and other animals without backbones. Many invertebrates live in a stream for several months, which exposes them to changing water quality conditions over time. When scientists monitor aquatic invertebrates, they can find out what species are present and their tolerance level to pollution and disturbances. Some species can live in poor water quality conditions, while others need cleaner conditions.
Carver Branch EPT
Control chart for EPT richness for Carver Branch, George Washington Carver National Monument. Points are means for a given sampling date, and the vertical bars are standard errors (n=3). The horizontal line represents the control limit corresponding to the Type I error rate of 0.05.
Aquatic invertebrate communities can serve as the "canary in the coal mine" for water quality condition of a stream. Invertebrate communities can also help determine impacts of development and pollution within a watershed

Since 1989, NPS scientists have monitored invertebrates in three streams that flow through the park, however since 2005, there has been variability in the invertebrate community, water quality, and habitat among the three streams. All three streams are considered to be in good condition, but more monitoring may allow more insight into trends occurring in the streams.
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Data in this report were collected and analyzed using methods based on established, peer-reviewed protocols and were analyzed and interpreted within the guidelines of the protocols.

Last updated: March 16, 2018