Spring Aquatic Invertebrate Surveys

Last month SPES completed spring aquatic invertebrate surveys, gathering data to understand what is living in Stanley Park’s creeks. Led by SPES Conservation Technician Marisa Bischoff and a team of volunteers, the survey assessed three different creeks in the park over three weeks in April and May. 

The purpose is to identify what kind of aquatic insects are living in the Park’s creeks. More specifically – benthic macroinvertebrates, which are bottom dwelling, spineless creatures that are small but can be seen with the naked eye. Most are insects at immature stages of development, but worms, snails, and clams can also be found. 

SPES staff and volunteers inspecting water samples to identify aquatic insects (Photo by Robin Russell)

“A big thank you to all the SPES volunteers who helped support the spring stream invertebrate survey work this year. It is an important part of our ongoing long-term monitoring and a helpful bio-indicator to understand the overall health of freshwater creeks in the Park.” said Bischoff. 

Water quality is important, and some species are more sensitive to changes and pollutants in the waterways so seeing more or less taxa of specific critters helps track the health of the creeks over time. Taken each Spring and Fall, SPES uses these surveys as an indicator for freshwater habitat, which then is used in a wider context within the State of the Park Report for the Ecological Integrity of Stanley Park (SOPEI), which is published once every 10 years. The latest SOPEI report from 2020 is available here

Anyone interested in learning more about aquatic invertebrate surveys can find the Streamkeepers Handbook developed by the Government of Canada online, which explains the widely accepted and standardized process and includes a fascinating key used by SPES to identity the insects. 

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