Benthic Macroinvertebrate and Fish Information

Benthic Macroinvertebrate sampling and data
Benthic Macroinvertebrates as Environmental IndicatorsBenthic Kick
Benthic Macroinvertebrates are small animals living among the sediments and stones on the bottom of streams, rivers and lakes. Insects comprise the largest diversity of these organisms and include mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, beetles, midges, crane flies, dragonflies, and others. Other members of the benthic macroinvertebrate community are snails, clams, aquatic worms, and crayfish. They are extremely important in the food chain of aquatic environments as they are important players in the processing and cycling of nutrient and are major food sources for fish and other aquatic animals.

Benthic macroinvertebrates have been used for many years to assess water quality. Currently, they are utilized throughout the world in water quality assessments, as environmental indicators of biological integrity, to describe water quality conditions of health of aquatic ecosystems, and to identify causes of impairment. Benthic macroinvertebrate communities are known to respond to a wide array of environmental stressors, and in different ways. This response will often make it possible to determine the type of stress that has affected the community. Many macroinvertebrate taxa have relatively long life cycles. Thus, community structure is a function of past water quality conditions.
Benthic Macroinvertebrates - links to additional information

Disclaimer:  Any sampling methodology described on the page linked above is for use with the West Virginia Save Our Streams program. Sampling methods may not be comparable to Watershed Branch methodology and cannot be used to calculate IBIs or MMIs such as the WVSCI.

West Virginia Stream Condition Index (WVSCI)

The West Virginia Stream Condition Index (WVSCI) consists of six benthic community metrics combined into a single multimetric index. The WVSCI was developed by Tetra Tech Inc. (2000) using DEP and EPA data collected from riffle habitats in wadeable streams.

In general terms, all metric values were converted to a standard 0 (worst) to 100 (best) point scale. The six standardized metric scores were then averaged for each benthic sample site to come up with a final index score ranging from 0.0 to 100.0. Using the distribution of scores from all sites that are considered reference sites, an impairment threshold of 68.0 was established. If a stream site received a WVSCI score greater than 68.0, it was considered to be unimpaired.

To address the potential variability associated with a number of factors (collector, micro-habitat, subsampling,etc.) a precision estimate was determined by analysis of duplicate biomonitoring data. The precision estimate (7.4 WVSCI points) was subtracted from the impairment threshold to define a "gray zone" of WVSCI scores between 60.6 and 68.0 for which adverse impact to biological integrity is less than certain.

The effective use of limited TMDL development and implementation resources requires the avoidance of impairment misclassifications. Although the true WVSCI threshold is 68.0, DEP identified biological impairment in the
303(d) listing process only in response to WVSCI scores less than 60.6, so as to allow the highest degree of confidence in the validity of the listed biological impairments.
WVSCI document
WVSCI addendum

Fish as Environmental Indicators
Fish community assessments are an important component of many water quality management programs. These assessments can be useful for making decisions in regard to biological integrity, consumption advisories, and overall stream health. The fish community may prove to be a useful tool to assess Aquatic Life Use attainment in non-wadeable streams where methods for assessing the benthic macroinvertebrate community have not been established for West Virginia.

Currently (April 2011), WAB does not have a fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) developed for use with fish community data. However, data collection is the first step in the IBI development process.

Link to Standard Operating Proceedures Page 

Division of Natural Resources (DNR) Scientific Collection Permit
Database information  Training materials
Scientific Collection Permit Database is version 4.03, published June 25, 2012. Benthic training materials are from April 1, 2011 session.
Fish training materials are from May 18, 2011 
The link below includes:
 - memo about the database
 - instructions for use of the database
 - database with demo data
 - blank database
 - data transfer tool allowing transfer of data from an older to the newer version

WVDEP-DNR Scientific Collection Permit Database Version 4.03
2011 Benthic Macroinvertebrate Collection Proceedures
2011 Benthic Macroinvertebrate Collection Protocols - Powerpoint presentation
2011 Fish Collection Protocols - Powerpoint presentation
2011 WVDEP Fish Collection Proceedures

Link to West Virginia DNR's Scientific Collection Permit application
Link to Watershed Assessment Branch's Standard Operating Procedures
Link to West Virginia Narrative Water Quality Permit Guidance

Fish community data and fish tissue contaminants


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