Benthics Monitoring: Indicators of Environmental Health
Benthic macroinvertebrates are a community of organisms that live in the substrate (or benthos) found at the bottom of creeks, streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands. This interesting group of animals are generally large enough to see with the naked eye (macro), spend at least some portion of their life in an aquatic environment, and are all without backbones (invertebrate).
Typical benthic invertebrates are animals such as snails, crayfish, clams, leeches, worms and the larval stages of insects like dragonflies, mayflies, stoneflies and beetles that spend some or all of their lives in water. What makes these animals so interesting is that the health of a watercourse can be determined from the number and types of organisms found in the benthic samples!
KCCA operates a benthic monitoring program in the fall that follows a provincial protocol for sampling in creeks and streams. Analyzing the benthic community along with collecting surface water chemistry data provides information on the health of the watercourse. Over time, trends and patterns of the data can be studied and water quality issues can be addressed by using best management practices in areas of concern.