Advanced SOPs

Described here are the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for completing an advanced biosurvey. These SOPs are designed and intended for the assessment of wadeable streams; they consist of three basic elements:

  1. Water chemistry analysis
  2. Physical and habitat evaluations mostly by observations using the examples described on the survey data sheet
  3. The collection and assessment of the benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) community

The order of the procedures can very slightly, depending upon the number of volunteers available to perform the survey. However, water quality analysis and physical evaluations should occur prior to any disturbance that may be caused when walking in the stream.

  • Reach Delineation

    A wadeable stream reach is defined as a section of stream no deeper than waist deep (except pools); most of the reach are at depths between the thigh and the waist or shallower.

  • Water Chemistry Analysis

    This section describes procedures and considerations for collecting water samples from wadeable stream reaches.

  • Discharge Measurement

    The size of a waterway and its flow rate affect its water quality. For example, discharges containing contaminants will have less effect on large swiftly flowing rivers than on small slow streams. This is one reason for measuring flow - to work out the load of contaminants and sediment the waterway is carrying.

  • BMI Collections

    Benthic macroinvertebrates live in a wide variety of aquatic environments. In lakes, wetlands and large river systems they are common in shallow edge microhabitats along shorelines in tangles of vegetation, roots, and leafs, in gravel shoals or along rocky and undercut banks; some kinds burry themselves in mud and sand of in shallow flowing water.

  • BMI Sorting and Counting

    Advanced sorting techniques for volunteer monitoring groups using Level-3 SOPs.

  • Evaluating Biologic Integrity

    After the counting, sorting and identifications is complete the benthic macroinvertebrate collections are assessed using six metrics. An overall stream score is determined using reference formulas or point system.

  • Physical Condition Evaluation

    This portion of the survey includes a wide variety of observations using all senses, making several judgments based on established rating descriptions, as well as collection and measurement procedures. In this section we discuss general physical observations.

  • Habitat Assessment

    The habitat assessment process involves rating many different habitat conditions as optimal, suboptimal, marginal or poor based upon criteria (descriptions and a rating scale) included on the survey data sheets.

  • Pebble Counts

    The composition of the streambed and banks is an important facet of stream character, influencing channel form and hydraulics, erosion rates, sediment supply, and other parameters. You can document this difference by collecting representative samples of the bed materials using a procedure called a pebble count.

  • Additional Procedures

    Additional procedures including sketch the reach, photo documentation, and land use impacts.

Before deciding to begin a monitoring and/or restoration project it is very important for you to describe your study design. Think carefully about the why, what, where, when and how questions, and consider the (QAQC) measures that are necessary to ensure accuracy and precision. Your monitoring is much more likely to be successful and sustainable with the right plan.

Additional Information