Aquatic Invertebrate Monitoring at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Small stretch of Fox Creek at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.
Fox Creek at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.

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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.
Richness Graph for Fox Creek at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Means and standard errors (n=3) for richness metrics and HBI at Fox Creek, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.

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Graph of species richness for Palmer Creek at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Means and standard errors (n=3) for richness metrics and HBI at Palmer Creek, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.

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Since 2009, water quality, habitat, and aquatic insect communities indicate these streams may be mildly disturbed. The watershed of Fox Creek is impacted by several known human disturbances. However, several intolerant species were found in the streams. Both streams may also have natural seasonal stressors affecting stream quality. More monitoring may allow insight into trends occurring in the streams. Promoting conservation in the watershed also helps.
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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: March 16, 2018