Macroinvertebrate Collection and Analysis | Aquatic Assessments

Macroinvertebrate Collection and Analysis | Aquatic Assessments – The following steps are taken from the KDOW SOP manual, and describe the methodology for collecting a multi-habitat sample in a wadeable stream:

“1. The investigator will sample a variety of non-riffle habitats with the aid of an 800 x
900 μm mesh triangular or D-frame dip net.
2. Each habitat will be sampled in at least three (3) replicates.
3. After all habitats have been sampled, the contents of the mesh wash bucket will be
composited into a glass, sampling jar with 95% ETOH.
4. The wash bucket will be picked clean of any remaining macroinvertebrates.
5. The sample jar will be labeled with appropriate information (Section 8.D.) and will be
ready for transport to the lab for analysis.
6. Each of these following habitats will be sampled:

A. Undercut Banks/Root Mats
1. These are sampled by placing a large root wad into a triangular or D-frame dip
net and shaking vigorously.
2. The contents are removed from the dip net and placed into a mesh wash bucket.
3. If undercut banks are present in both run and pool areas, each is sampled
separately with three (3) replicates.

B. Marginal Emergent Vegetation (exclusive of water willow, Justicia Americana, beds)
1. This habitat is sampled by thrusting (i.e., “jabbing”) the dip net into the
vegetation for approximately 1m, and then sweeping through the area to collect
dislodged organisms.
2. Material is then rinsed in the wash bucket and any sticks, leaves and vegetation
are thoroughly washed and inspected before discarding.

C. Bedrock or Slab-Rock Habitats
1. These habitats are sampled by placing the edge of the dip net flush on the
substrate, and disturbing approximately 0.1 m2 of area to dislodge attached
2. Material is emptied into a wash bucket, rinsed, inspected for organisms, and

D. Justicia americana (water willow) Beds
1. These are sampled by working the net through a 1m section in a jabbing
2. The material is then emptied into a wash bucket and any J. americana stems
are thoroughly washed, inspected and discarded.

E. Leaf Packs
1. Leaf packs are preferably collected from “conditioned” (i.e., not new-fall
material) material when possible.
2. Samples are taken from a diversity of habitats (i.e., riffles, runs and pools) and
placed into the wash bucket.
3. The material is thoroughly rinsed to dislodge organisms, inspected and

F. Silt, Sand, and Fine Gravel
1. A U.S. No. 10 sieve is used to sort larger invertebrates (e.g., mussels,
burrowing mayflies, dragonfly larvae) from silt, sand and fine gravel by scooping
the substrate to an approximate depth of 5cm.
2. A variety of collection sites are sampled in order to obtain three (3) replicates
in each substrate type where available (silt, sand and fine gravel).

G. Aufwuchs Sample
1. Small invertebrates associated with this habitat are obtained by washing a small
amount of rocks, sticks, leaves, filamentous algae and moss into a medium-sizedbucket half filled with water.
2. The material is then elutriated and sieved with the nitex sampler/mesh.

H. Rock Picking
1. Benthic macroinvertebrates are picked from 15 rocks (large cobble/small
boulders; 5 each from riffle, run and pool).
2. Selected rocks are washed in a bucket half filled with water and then carefully
inspected to remove organisms.

I. Wood Sample
1. Pieces of submerged wood, ranging from roughly 3 to 6 meters (10 to 20 linear
feet) in length and ranging from 5–15 cm (2–6 inches) in diameter, are
individually rinsed into the wash bucket.
2. Pieces of wood are inspected for burrowers and crevice dwellers and are
removed with fine-tipped forceps.
3. Large diameter, well-aged logs should be inspected and handpicked with finetipped

After the samples have been processed our aquatic entomologists identify each organism and provide an analysis of the results.

To read more about our macroinvertebrate samples see here. If you would like to discuss your project or have questions contact us or request a quote.

Wetland Delineation

Our Services

Wetland Delineation

This week we performed a wetland delineation in Whitley County, Kentucky to fulfill requirements under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

The wetland delineation in Whitley County, Kentucky was conducted by BSC personnel in support of the requirements of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Field surveys for the following determination were conducted in accordance with the 1987 United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Wetlands Delineation Manual (USACE, 1987) and the Final Regional Supplement for the Piedmont and Eastern Mountains Region (USACE, 2012).

According to USACE “This Regional Supplement is part of a nationwide effort to address regional wetland characteristics and improve the accuracy and efficiency of wetland delineation procedures. Regional differences in climate, geology, soils,hydrology, plant and animal communities, and other factors are important to the identification and functioning of wetlands. The regional supplement was finalized in 2012 and covers all or portions of the District of Columbia and 20 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia” (USACE 2012).

The determination within our report is subject to review and approval by the Nashville District of the USACE. As requested by the Nashville District USACE only the area within the vicinity of the proposed work was evaluated for the wetland delineation. As indicated in our report there was a small area that appeared to meet the soils, hydrology, and vegetation characteristics for wetlands as defined by USACE. See more of our services here.

Contact us today or request a quote.


United States Army Corps of Engineers. 1987. Corps of Engineers Wetlands Delineation Manual. Technical Report Y-87-1, Department of the Army, Waterways Experiment Station.

United States Army Corps of Engineers. 2012. Final Regional Supplement to the Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual: Eastern Mountains and Piedmont Region, ed. J.S. Wakeley, R.W. Lichvar, and C.V. Noble. ERDC/EL TR 10-XX. Vicksburg, MS: U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.


Wetland Delineation Kentucky
Wetland Delineation Area (in Background)

Kentucky Stream Restoration

Kentucky Stream Restoration

Stream mitigation including stream restoration design and construction monitoring services. Whether it is a baseline study or full stream restoration design plan our team regularly performs these tasks to help our clients meet their project goals. Using Rosgen and standard survey trained stream restoration specialists, Biological Systems Consultants provides their clients with longitudinal profiles, profile and dimension information (plan-views, cross-sections), pebble counts, and complete Rosgen stream assessments. Using existing stream conditions or reference streams, Biological Systems Consultants provides detailed stream channel information for these types of projects. See additional services here.

Stream Restoration
Stream Restoration Site

KY Stream Restoration

KY Stream Restoration

Stream restoration design and monitoring at this site in Whitley County, Kentucky has resulted in an increase in aquatic resources across the watershed. Macroinvertebrate communities have been re-established and the riparian zones have been replanted with trees and shrubs that are native the Kentucky. The stream channels were also reshaped to provide the channel access to a flood plain and reduce incision. Contact us or request a quote today. See additional services here.

KY Stream Restoration Plan
Stream Restoration
KY Stream Restoration
Stream Restoration

Benthic Macroinvertebrate Surveys

Benthic Macroinvertebrate Collection and Analysis

Benthic Macroinvertebrate Surveys

Benthic macroinvertebrate surveys and analysis is provided by our team of aquatic entomologists and biologists. Biological Systems Consultants’ macroinvertebrate survey team is equipped to take on all of your aquatic survey needs. Our staff is fully permitted and qualified to conduct surveys for the. If you have any questions about your biological monitoring compliance needs or programs, please give us a call and we will be happy to walk you through the process and take care of all your benthic macroinvertebrate survey needs. Contact us or request a quote today. See additional services here.


Benthic Macroinvertebrate Survey Collection Analysis
Benthic Macroinvertebrates

KY Mitigation Compliance

KY Mitigation Compliance

Section 404 Clean Water Act Mitigation compliance documentation can be very difficult due to the complexity and detail of many permit conditions. Biological Systems Consultants specializes in regulatory compliance assistance and has been monitoring sites in multiple states for many years. Achievement of mitigation goals and objectives for stream restoration, stream enhancement, stream creation, and stream preservation projects has been our goal for years, with the final goal always being release of liability from the monitoring program. Biological Systems Consultants has been able to achieve these goals for their clients. Biological Systems Consultants’ stream mitigation compliance  team is equipped to take on all of your mitigation compliance needs (baseline studies, during, post). Our staff is fully permitted and qualified to conduct stream and wetland mitigation surveys and has extensive experience with various habitat assessment protocols. If you have any questions about your Section 404, 401 or other mitigation compliance Contact us or request a quote today.


Training for Quality Assurance

Stream Assessment Training
Training for Quality Assurance - Jesse Robinson, Brian Sharp, James Robinson, Jason Robinson, Anthony Glenn
QA / QC Training


At least once a year, our field teams gather for Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) Annual Training to review and demonstrate our field methods. All of our field methods are based on published Standard Operating Procedure Manuals that guide all sampling or monitoring techniques.

This is also a part of our Kentucky Division of Water Field Lab Certification Compliance Program headed by Project Scientist, Tom Wilson. 


Training for Quality Assurance - Jason Robinson
QA/QC Training
Aquatic Biology
Training for Quality Assurance - Stream Assessment Survey Training
Stream Assessment Survey Training



Bioassessments & Benthic Macroinvertebrates

Waterfall / Step Pool / Stream Assessments

Bioassessments & Benthic Macroinvertebrates collections were conducted this week and we had to share some photos from the field during the macroinvertebrate surveys in Harlan County, Kentucky. The above average rainfall in May 2016 revealed breathtaking waterfalls in this watershed.

Waterfall / Kentucky / Harlan Co.
Waterfall / Kentucky / Harlan Co.

Biological Systems Consultants typically assesses sampling sites for Kentucky macroinvertebrates February through May in headwater streams and May through September in wadeable streams.

Waterfall / Biological Assessment
Waterfall / Biological Assessment


Waterfall / Step Pool / Stream Assessments
Waterfall / Step Pool / Stream Assessments
Confluence / Stream Pool / Bedrock Substrate
Confluence of two tributaries / Pool Feature

Selenium Fish Tissue Sampling

Selenium fish tissue sampling is required for exceedances of many NPDES/KPDES permit limitations. The results must be submitted on the next months DMR so depending on the sampling dates this typically reduces the available sampling time to a short period after the exceedance is determined to when the sample can be collected.

Selenium Fish Tissue Kentucky KY
Selenium Fish Tissue Sampling

Many Kentucky KPDES Permits now contain a Selenium Fish Tissue sampling trigger for collection of fish and application of EPA Method 200.8. This method identifies the amount of Selenium accumulated in the tissue of certain fish species. This methodology is outlined in the Methods for the Collection of Selenium Residue in Fish Tissue Used to Determine KPDES Permit Compliance SOP manual published by the Commonwealth of Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, Department for Environmental Protection, Division of Water (KDOW, 2014). Contact us today for a quote.

Macroinvertebrate Analysis & Identification

Benthic Macroinvertebrate Collection and Analysis

Macroinvertebrate Analysis & Identification

Order: Ephemeroptera

Family: Ephemeridae

Genus: Ephemera

Total Number of Species: 6 (1 recently extinct)

Habitat: Lotic & Lentic Systems – Depositional Areas, consisting of sand and gravel

Habit: Burrowers

Trophic Relationships: Collectors; Predators; Filterers

North American Distribution: Widespread



Macroinvertebrate Analysis Identification

Specimen taken from an aquatic macroinvertebrate sample conducted in Bell County, Kentucky during baseline studies for an individual KPDES/NPDES permit.


 Contact us today or request a quote for your project.



Merritt, R. W., K. W. Cummins, and M. B. Berg (eds). 2008. An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America (4th ed.). Kendall/Hunt Publ. Co., Dubuque, IA 1158 pp

Spring Mitigation Monitoring

Spring mitigation monitoring has begun. This stream restoration site was permitted under the Clean Water Act using a Nationwide Permit. Natural stream design techniques were applied using a combination of Rosgen and standard survey practices using a reference reach. The restoration project has been successful in restoring fish and macroinvertebrate habitat, and has also been successful in the physical restoration of a more natural pattern, profile, plan-view and dimension. The macroinverebrate communities are highly diverse and minnows were found just below this area.


Stream Restoration Plan
Restored Stream Reach


Minnow caught in net during macroinverebrate survey in restored stream channel.




Ecological Surveys

Ecological SurveyEcological surveys such as fish census or stream habitat assessments are necessary to provide data for assessing the current conditions of an ecosystem. A fish census provides a snapshot into the populations (i.e. diversity) of fish species within a segment of stream. A stream habitat assessment can provide insights into the current habitat conditions of epifaunal substrates, re-oxygenation zones, and embeddedness of the stream bottom. Using quantitative metrics these assessments can provide one time or on-going monitoring of these aquatic resources. Biological Systems Consultants’ team of scientists are familiar with various state protocols and routinely perform these types of assessments.

Fish Inventory

Stream Survey
2016 Blackside Dace Fish Inventory and Habitat Assessment for threatened species. We provide a wide variety of consulting services related to the aquatic ecosystem.

Fish Surveys

Rhododendron Pool

Jesse carrying the battery and backpack electro-fish shocker. The device stuns fish for several seconds so populations can be counted. These surveys can be used for baseline studies required for projects needing Clean Water Act permitting (NPDES), Section 404, Nationwide or Individual Permits or Protection and Enhancement Plans.