Macroinvertebrates: Important Information
from Little Creatures Living in the Stream, River or Lake
I'm an entomologist. That's right I study bugs-especially aquatic ones that the fish
eat. But the bugs or benthic macroinvertebrates tell us a story for biomonitoring and bioassessment.
Unfortunately, a story that too many EPA and DEPs don't like: what's really happening to our streams. The
macroinvertebrates are the best indicators of stream pollution and environmental degradation. The EPA Rapid
Bioassessment Protocols which are used (sometimes) are more than a bit outdated. Each state has their own
derived version of these protocols but you'd never know it from their use. DEPs don't like benchmarking and
establishing baselines for their waters. And for good reason, it would show just how bad much of their work
is with the issuance of NPDES. Instead many departments lean towards chemical data (which is fleeting to
say the least) which can easily be rigged or done improperly.
The decline in both quality and quantity of macroinvertebrate communities is a major sign of total
stream and river degradation in America. Aquatic scientists label or define waters by certain indicator species
from macroinvertebrate communities. These are usually quantified in some form to give an environmental index
or "rating." By benchmarking and establishing baselines for streams, rivers, and lakes using these
indicators a complete progression can be seen on the health of the water.