This resource is designed to provide a better understanding of the wide variety of aquatic invertebrates found in
our rivers, streams and wetlands. In addition to images, general information is included about the
distinguishing features of the aquatic stage that aid in identification, and a scale for
the organisms' feeding group, tolerance, size range and habitat. Larval and adult images are also provided for
Aquatic invertebrates are excellent indicators of watershed health because they: live in the water for all or
most of their life, stay in areas suitable for their survival, are easy to collect, differ in their tolerance to amount
and types of pollution, are easy to identify in a laboratory and in the field, often live for more than one
year, and are important components of a stream's nutrient and energy system.
Plants and animals are classified according to the hierarchial system that arranges the organisms into groups based
upon their similarities. These groups are arranged from general to very specific. The science of classification is
known as taxonomy.
Feeding Groups - Functional feeding groups are a classification approach that is based on
behavioral mechanisms of food acquisition rather than taxonomic group.
- Glossary of
Select Terms - The glossary includes select terminology used here and it also includes other
terms often associated with the description of aquatic invertebrates.
Integrity - After the counting, sorting and identification is complete the benthic
macroinvertebrates collections are assessed using six metrics.