Aquatic Invertebrate Monitoring at Hot Springs National Park

Gulpha Creek at Hot Springs National Park
Gulpha Creek at Hot Springs National Park


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. Aquatic invertebrate communities can serve as the "canary in the coal mine" for water quality of a stream.
EPT Richness graph for Bull Bayou and Gulpha Creek
EPT Richness for Bull Bayou and Gulpha Creek from 2009 through 2015.


In 2015, scientists found many species that are intolerant to poor water quality, which shows these streams currently are in good condition.

Potential threats to stream quality occur in the watershed. For instance, a landfill in the upper Bull Bayou watershed poses a risk for pollution. Urbanization and other land practices in the Gulpha Creek watershed could also lead to pollution. This presents managers with a problem, what should we do? Maintaining and widening the areas near streams can help protect the aquatic life. This would decrease chemical runoff and sediment from entering the stream. These areas could also be restored by planting native flora, which would help with erosion.
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Learn more about the Heartland Inventory & Monitoring Network.

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: April 9, 2019