Streambed insects as watershed health indicator

Seattle Public Utilities is monitoring the health of Cedar River Watershed by collecting and examining streambed insects.


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Developed with US Geological Survey, the monitoring method involves the examination of streambed insects, known as benthic invertebrates, and the measurement of streamflow and water quality.

In the sampling, benthic invertebrates were collected from the streams, then counted and classified according to species and other characteristics. From this data, USGS scientists developed a biological index for each sampled stream. The index serves as a score of how healthy a stream is and what kinds of species it can support.

“This study provides baseline information about the health of the watershed,” said Bob Black, USGS biologist and lead author of the report. “Baseline conditions are now charted, so we can see how influences on a watershed might be affecting the health of its ecosystem through time.”

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