National Park Service

Southern Colorado Plateau Network (SCPN)

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Dragonfly at Buckhorn Spring in Grand Canyon NP



Project Summary
Monitoring Protocol (6 MB)

Monitoring Reports

SCPN parks have identified vital signs for this project and related aquatic monitoring

  1. Aquatic macroinvertebrate composition & abundance
  2. Habitat metrics - water depth, water velocity, substrate size, canopy closure
  3. Water quality
  4. Streamflow and depth to ground water

Parks and streams where SCPN monitors aquatic macroinvertebrates

Park Streams
Bandelier NM Capulin Creek
Rito del los Frijoles
Canyon de Chelly NM Tsaile Creek
Black Rock Canyon
Grand Canyon NP Hermit Creek
Bright Angel Creek
Garden Creek
Mesa Verde NP Mancos River

Aquatic macroinvertebrates are important in aquatic systems because they function as detritivores, herbivores, predators, competitors, and prey. They are sensitive to environmental change, so monitoring them can help us detect chemical, physical, and biological impacts to aquatic ecosystems. Furthermore, monitoring aquatic macroinvertebrates in streams enables us to detect important changes that may be occurring in network park watersheds, from site-specific to regional scales. Long-term aquatic macroinvertebrates monitoring complements water quality assessment methods, providing a more comprehensive evaluation of stream health.

A number of natural and anthropogenic stressors can affect the composition, structure, and functioning of aquatic ecosystems, including human alterations of streams, land altering land uses, and disturbance events. Persistent changes in climate can disrupt natural flood regimes and alter natural temperature cycles. In addition, climate-related changes to aquatic ecosystems may be amplified by interactions with existing anthropogenic stressors, such as the spread of invasive species like crayfish.

Monitoring Objectives

Aquatic macroinvertebrates can be used as indicators of overall aquatic ecosystem integrity. Focusing specifically on species abundance and diversity, our monitoring objectives are

  • Determine the status and trends in the composition and abundance of aquatic macroinvertebrate assemblages.
  • Determine the distribution and condition of aquatic macroinvertebrate habitats.
Mayfly on river cobble from Mancos River in Mesa Verde NP<br/>(SCPN photo) Measuring streamflow velocity at Hermit Creek in Grand Canyon NP (SCPN photo) Quantitative aquatic macroinvertebrate sample from Hermit Creek in Grand Canyon NP (SCPN photo) Bottling samples at Hermit Creek in Grand Canyon NP<br />(SCPN photo) Sampling the physical habitat at Hermit Creek in Grand Canyon NP (SCPN photo) Filtering aquatic macroinvertebrates on the Mancos River in Mesa Verde NP (SCPN photo) Sorting aquatic macroinvertebrate samples at the Mancos River in Mesa Verde NP (SCPN photo) Sorting aquatic macroinvertebrate samples from capture net at the Mancos River in Mesa Verde NP (SCPN photo) Stonefly nymph in Bandelier NM<br />(SCPN photo) Dragonfly in Glen Canyon NRA<br />(SCPN photo) Damselfly in Glen Canyon NRA<br />(SCPN photo) Aquatic macroinvertebrate capture net from Tsaile Creek in Canyon de Chelly NM (SCPN photo) Measuring discharge at Black Rock Canyon in Canyon de Chelly NM (SCPN photo) Sampling physical habitat along Rito de los Frijoles in Bandelier NM (SCPN photo) Sorting aquatic macroinvertebrate samples at Capulin Creek in Bandelier NM (SCPN photo) Capulin Creek in Bandelier NM<br />(SCPN photo)

Monitoring Project Status

Aquatic macroinvertebrate assemblages are monitored annually at sites on selected streams in four SCPN parks. Samples are sent to the Bureau of Land Management's National Aquatic Monitoring Center's Bug Lab at Utah State University for analysis.

Aquatic macroinvertebrate monitoring in SCPN parks began in 2007. The Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Monitoring Protocol for the Southern Colorado Plateau Network was published in September 2011.

Project Contacts

Stacy Stumpf, Aquatic Ecologist
Southern Colorado Plateau Network

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Last Updated: February 08, 2018 Contact Webmaster