Freshwater Macroinvertebrate & Water Quality Resources



25.jpg Macros & Water Quality Resources:

Know Your Macros! (5.1 MB) - A PowerPoint slideshow created by Michael Clapp that introduces benthic macroinvertebrates and highlights some major taxa encountered in stream samples. [download as 3.4 MB .pdf]

Macro ID Practice Sets - Think you Know Your Macros? Try identifying the aquatic macroinvertebrates in the following slideshow of macro images.

Macro ID Practice Set A (html)
Key to Practice Set A (html)

Macro ID Practice Set B (html)
Key to Practice Set B (html)

East Fork of the Lewis River - The River Mile Water Quality Study - Resource page developed by Michael Clapp (7th/8th grade science teacher at CAM Academy - Battle Ground, WA). Sections of the webpage include:

  • The River Mile (National Park Service project)
  • Water Quality Monitoring Network (Water Resources Education Center, Vancouver, WA)
  • Water Quality/Macroinvertebrate Project (CAM Academy 7th grade science project for students)
  • East Fork of the Lewis River (Clark Co., WA)
  • The Columbia River
  • Pacific Salmon
Documents & Classroom Activities created by Michael Clapp for use with 7th grade science students at CAM Academy. Also includes links to supporting materials used to complete the activities and aide instruction on water quality, freshwater macroinvertebrates, and the East Fork Lewis River.

Field Guide & Print Resources for Macroinvertebrates & Water Quality Monitoring:

Freshwater Macroinvertebrates from Streams in Western Washington and Western Oregon. Created by Michael R. Clapp/, this double-sided, 9 in. X 11.5 in., full-color, laminated field guide includes 70+ pictures of freshwater macroinvertebrates, representing 45 taxa of insect and non-insect aquatic organisms.
Stream Insects of the Pacific Northwest . 43-page, color field guide, text and photos by Patrick Edwards. Published by Center for Science Education, Portland State University. Contact: email; ph (503) 725-8303.
Macroinvertebrates of the Pacific Northwest: A Field Guide, Jeff Adams and Mace Vaughan. The Xerces Society. This field guide is intended for use as a companion to the CD-ROM: Stream Bugs as Biomotiors: A Guide to Pacific Northwest Macroinvertebrate Monitoring, also published by The Xerces Society. (
Guide to Pacific Northwest Aquatic Invertebrates. Rick Hafele and Steve Hinton. Oregon Trout. Portland, Oregon. (503) 222-9091.
A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America. J. Reese Voshell, Jr. The McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company.
Guide to Aquatic Invertebrates of the Upper Midwest - Available from the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center. A volunteer stream monitoring guide and curriculum material is also available.
Field Manual for Water Quality Monitoring, An Environmental Education Program for Schools. Mark K. Mitchell and William Stapp.
The Dragonfly Woman - Friday 5: Aquatic Insects, In Print! A blog posting showing covers and brief review of several other freshwater invertebrate guide books. Friday 5: My Field Guide Wish List includes Field Guide to Freshwater Invertebrates of North American by Thorp & Rogers.

Online Identification Guides:
The online guides are arranged in order of complexity, from a general guide with broad groupings of aquatic macros to ones with more detailed keys of organisms.

Guide to Freshwater MacroInvertebrates from Streams in Western Washington & Western Oregon - sorted collection of macro images by Michael Clapp -
Guide to Freshwater Invertebrates - basic guide to freshwater macroinvertebrates developed by Leska S. Fore for Pacific Northwest water quality volunteers
Family-level Key to Stream Invertebrates of Maryland and Surrounding Areas - this key is a downloadable .pdf file (Maryland Dept. of natural Resources)
Key to Aquatic Macroinvertebrates in Utah - Utah State University Cooperative Extension
Key to Aquatic Macroinvertebrates - New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
EPA: Benthic Macroinvertebrates - from the Biological Indicators of Watershed Health portion of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency website
North Dakota Digital Key to Aquatic Insects - VCSU Macro-Invertebrate Lab's Digital Key to Aquatic Insects of North Dakota
What Freshwater Invertebrate Is This? - Landcare Research (New Zealand); other interesting stream resources available on this site
An Introductions to Benthic Mancrinvertebrates (Kentucky Division of Water)

Additional Online Resources:

Macroinvertebrate Ecology (.pdf) is a 12-page .pdf document is found on the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources website and was created for the Maryland State Envirothon. It provides a nice introduction to macroinvertebrate anatomy, life cycle, adaptations, and use in biomonitoring. There are other really good resources available from this website, including a nicely illustrated macroinvertebrate key. (Developed for Maryland - may not be adequate for all locations.)
Ecology Field Guide (.pdf - also available in Spanish) - This field guide was developed by Wolftree, Inc. of Portland, OR, to assist students and teachers in conducting outdoor ecological studies. Sections on "Aquatic Inverts", "Water Chemistry," and "Streamflow & Wetlands" are particularly useful to those studying water quality. Be sure to examine the "Ecology Concepts" and "Field Studies Intro," as well. The scope of the field guide extends well beyond the banks of a stream. Really good stuff!!
The Key to Macroinvertebrate Life in the River and Key to Life in the Pond are easy-to-use, single-page dichotomous keys developed by the University of Wisconsin - Extension and useful in identifying aquatic macroinvertebrates. You can download .pdf copies from the Water Action Volunteers Publications (scroll down to "riverkey.pdf")webpage. While you are at it, you may want to download a copy of Wonderful, Wacky, Water Critters. This 27-page booklet includes background information on the macroinvertebrates found in the river and pond keys.
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection: Benthic Macroinvertebrate Resources webpage has many great resources and links. Under the "Various Guides and Identification Keys" section, check out the Macro-ID guide (pdf). Under the "Additional Information" section, check out the Identification Activity (html).
Cacapon Institute: The Potomac Highland Watershed School e-school. In particular, check the Benthic Macroinvertebrate Portal for activities such as "Introduction to Stream Sampling" and "A Virtual Stream Sampler."
Maryland Department of Natural Resources Maryland Stream Waders web page provides some basic information about the state's monitoring program. Of special interest might be the Family-level Key to Stream Invertebrates of Maryland and Surrounding Areas. The key is a downloadable .pdf file.
"Aquatic Insect Fact Sheets" - Downloadable .pdf files from Creek Connections. The "fact sheets" are nicely illustrated and informative. Creek Connections was developed at Allegheny College as a partnership with regional K-12 schools in Northwest Pennsylvania, Southwest New York, and the Pittsburgh. They emphasize hands-on, inquiry-based investigation of local waterways. Lots of information - great stuff!!
The Hoosier Riverwatch Training Manual contains a useful section on biological monitoring and macroinvertebrates. In particular, Chapter 5 includes information on macroinvertebrate identification and a taxonomic key. Hoosier Riverwatch is sponsored by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources - Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Macroinvertebrate Field Identification Cards - The Connecticut Department of Energy & Envrionmental Protection has developed a program called: Rapid Bioassessment in Wadeable Streams & Rivers by Volunteer Monitors (RBV). The Field Identification Cards and other resources for water quality monitoring could provide useful information for macro ID and student research on specific macros.
Stroud Water Research Center - Leaf Pack Network; Leaf Pack Experiment Kit (LaMotte Company) includes the sorting sheets I use in class and at workshops; there are a number of other resources on this site, including a Macroinvertebrate Gallery (Schulylkill River Project)

Community Science Institute - Biological Monitoring - BMI (Benthic Macro-Invertebrates) Resources

Science Olympiad - Water Quality resources
NatureMapping: Water Module - The NatureMapping Program in Washington has a Water Module that contains helpful information regarding water quality testing and provides an online database to submit your data. You can also examine the results of others groups and compare them to your own.
What's in Your Water? - Information on chemicals, characteristics and organisms found in "natural waters" (DO, pH, temperature, bacteria, ...) and "drinking water" (pH, bacteria, arsenic, pharmaceuticals, ...), by Utah State University Cooperative Extension. "Water is Life: quality matters."
Stream Biology and Ecology - Information on the biology, ecology and scientific study of rivers and streams developed by Cristi Cave, B.S., Fisheries, 1998, School of Fisheries, University of Washington.
Stream Bug Monitoring of King County Natural Resources and Parks (which includes Seattle, WA). There are some pages about aquatic bugs and their use in water quality monitoring. It's a local (Pacific Northwest) site and contains links to additional online resources.

SalmonWeb [unfortunately, the website is no longer active; it's frequently referenced by other sites using the B-IBI protocol] - this community-based monitoring program was developed to promote "... the use of biological monitoring to understand the health of stream systems ...." The site contains information on the Benthic Index of Biological Integrity (B-IBI) for the Puget Sound Lowlands and a number of useful links.

See other programs using B-IBI below:

Puget Sound Stream Benthos - describes the B-IBI and provides examples of its application; GIS map of WA State shows sites tested and B-IBI scores

StreamKeepers of Clallum County: Biological Monitoring (includes information on Genus-Level B-IBI & link to video: Fresh Water Flowing (; Revised grading system for B-IBI for Puget Sound Lowlands; Calulating and Interpreting the Genus-Level B-IBI (.pdf)

Streamkeeper (Adopt-a-Stream Foundation) video link - "Fresh Waters Flowing" and "Biological Monitoringl Protocol" are two YouTube videos featuring Dr. James Karr and Charley Dewberry. They discuss the influence of human activity on stream health and a method for determining the level of disturbance using stream organisms.
National Aquatic Monitoring Center (a.k.a. "The Buglab") - The Bug Lab website contains an "Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Identification Guide." Also, check out the "Aquatic Bug Monitoring" links for information on water and bug monitoring, how to collect bugs in moving water and ponds, and a pictoral guide to common orders of macros.
Society for Freshwater Science - This site contains information about SFS and its activities. The Education and Outreach section of this site contains an Image Library of aquatic organism that could be of interest.

The Xerces Society ( of Portland, Oregon, has an Aquatic Invertebrates Conservation Program. Jeff Adams has developed a regional macroinvertebrate ID and aquatic monitoring guide. The Stream Bugs as Biomonitors: Guide to Pacific Northwest Macroinvertebrate Monitoring and Identification includes a CD-ROM (PC-compatible only) and field guide. The website also provides information and a scaled-down version of the guide.

Washington State Department of Ecology: Steam Biological Monitoring; Water Quality Program website
U.S. EPA - Rapid Bioassessment Protocols for Use in Streams and Wadeable Rivers
Dragonfly Woman - reflections, information, and photos from an entomologist (bug scientist) in Arizona

Under reconstruction:
Catalog of Aquatic Macroinvertebrates - much of it duplicates the macros information and images found on this website
Macroinvertebrate Image Sets by Location - collections of macro images from different locations in Clark County, WA; some contain commentary about the macros by Jeff Adams, former Aquatic Programs Director for Xerces Society
East Fork of the Lewis River watershed information - information and images about the East Fork of the Lewis River
Teacher's Toolbox and other resources for teaching about water quality monitoring and freshwater macroinvertebrates (the online macro ID guides, online resources, and publications duplicate information found on this page).
The "Aquatic Macroinvertebrates" section of Oregon Trout's "Stream Watch Volunteer Resource Packet" contains a "Quick Reference Guide to Aquatic Invertebrates." Other sections of the resource packet provide information about salmon biology, stream ecology, and water quality monitoring.

Return to: Aquatic Macros Index

modified: May 2013
Created by Michael R. Clapp (2005-2013). All rights reserved.
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