Aquatic Invertebrates

Photo of aquatic invertebrates taken with microscope camera.
Aquatic invertebrates as viewed through a microscope.

NPS

Parks in America’s heartland protect free-flowing rivers, mighty springs, and meandering prairie streams. An awesome variety of fish, reptiles, insects and plants live in these waterways. People float, fish, and find solace here. Yet, pollutants from growing cities and farms, treated sewage, and erosion degrade water quality and harm the plants and animals living there. NPS scientist stand guard by monitoring aquatic invertebrates, the insect larvae and nymphs living in stream beds. Some species can survive poor water quality, while others require pristine conditions. Aquatic invertebrates serve as the “canary in the coal mine” for overall stream health.

Left Image: Two employees collecting invertebrate samples in a stream.
Right Image: Monitoring area of a creek.
Left Image: Scientists collecting invertebrate samples in a stream.
Right Image: Monitoring area of a creek.

NPS-Photos


Monitoring Questions & Approach

  • Invertebrate diversity tells us how a river changes over time.
  • We find out what species are present and how abundant they are. We then rate how tolerant they are to pollution. This information helps us estimate water quality condition of streams.
  • We collect habitat data that helps us determine how the stream changes over time.
  • Data on stream invertebrates helps us assess impacts of development and pollution in the watershed.

Monitoring Updates

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    Monitoring Reports

    Included below are our most recent publications and related documents. For a full list visit the Data Store.

    Source: Data Store Collection 3745. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

    Monitoring Protocols

    Source: Data Store Saved Search 2535. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

    Last updated: October 20, 2017