Tiny Organisms Indicate Water Quality in Rush Creek

Macroinvertebrates are natural indicators of water quality in aquatic environments.  These little animals are extremely sensitive to changes in the chemical composition and algal content of the water they live in, which is why population assessments can be used to make inferences about water quality.  On May 21, Trinity Christian Reformed Church’s stream team conducted their third annual macroinvertebrate assessment of Rush Creek.  Kristi Klomp provided a short refresher in invertebrate identification and sampling protocol to the team members, then the participants were turned loose.  Some volunteers used nets to collect samples from the creek while others picked through them to locate the tiny organisms.  Church leader Gerry Koning recorded habitat data while the others sorted invertebrates.

For the third consecutive year, results showed that the water quality of Rush Creek is adequate to support a high diversity of aquatic organisms.  Participants were treated to up-close encounters with everything from caddisflies and damselflies to scuds and flatworms.  Fly larvae generally require an abundance of dissolved oxygen during development, so their presence means that the water in Rush Creek is adequately oxygenated.  Additionally, the presence of several species that are ultra-sensitive to contamination indicated that contamination levels must be very low.  Information gathered during these assessments is used to calculate an index of water quality that can be tracked year-to-year and compared to similar locations.  To get involved with WMEAC’s Adopt-a-Stream program or to learn more visit our website!

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