National Park Service

South Florida/Caribbean I&M Network (SFCN)

Monitoring Aquatic Invertebrates in Wet Prairies & Marshes

Representatives of three beetle genera (from left to right: Hydrocanthus, Haliplus, and Suphis) collected from East Hinson Marsh in Big Cypress National Preserve
Representatives of three beetle genera (from left to right: Hydrocanthus, Haliplus, and Suphis) collected from East Hinson Marsh in Big Cypress National Preserve.

Protocol

The SFCN marine aquatic invertebrates in wet prairies and marshes monitoring protocol is currently under development.

Resource Briefs, Reports, and Data

There are currently no SFCN resource briefs, reports, or data concerning this monitoring topic.

Importance/Issues

Aquatic invertebrate communities reflect water quality and hydrology (water depth, timing, duration, quantity) and are frequently used in indices (e.g., Macroinvertebrate Biological Integrity Index (MBI) as early warning response indicators of change. These invertebrates are the prey base for fish, large macro-invertebrates (e.g., crayfish), herpetofauna, and wading birds in the Greater Everglades and Big Cypress ecosystems. Water diversions and altered water management practices have changed aquatic invertebrate community composition and abundance. CERP will rehabilitate system hydrology and water quality, which should affect aquatic invertebrate communities and consequently higher trophic levels.

Monitoring Objectives

What are the status and trends in aquatic invertebrate community composition and structure especially in relation to hydrological patterns and water quality in the wet prairies and marshes?

Status & Trends

The SFCN conducted a pilot study assessing the use of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) protocol: "Procedure for the Collection of Field Identifiable Freshwater Wetland Macroinvertebrates Using a Time-Limited Qualitative Dip-Net Method" in 2012. The advantage of which is no need for extensive post-sampling invertebrate identification. This qualitative method has been readily used to assess lotic environments such as streams. Metrics have been developed to successfully show a strong relationship between the macro-invertebrate communities and water quality impacts. The goal of this pilot study was to determine the feasibility of this rapid-assessment method for SFCN staff. The SFCN staff has the technical skills for adequate invertebrate identification.

In 2013, SFCN did not conduct any sampling of aquatic invertebrates in wet prairies and marshes due to time constraints. We were not able to coordinate field work with US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Steve Mortellaro and his crew. In 2014, we hope to assess the relationship to water quality impairment. We will accomplish this by continuing to collaborate with the USFWS to establish these relationships and determine the feasibility of full scale monitoring by attempting a pilot study. This pilot study will be limited by logistical constraints and timing will be based on a hydrological clock. The pilot study will build on knowledge gained from current periphyton sampling.

Approach

This indicator will only be implemented in areas where SFCN is otherwise collecting fish and periphyton data, i.e., northwestern BICY. SFCN will develop the protocol “Freshwater fish, invertebrates, and periphyton” to describe monitoring in that area. A pilot study is needed to determine the range of variability in aquatic invertebrates (as well as periphyton) in the area and estimate appropriate sample sizes. SFCN technicians will separate out the aquatic invertebrates from the periphyton, identify the species where possible, and count them.

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Last Updated: March 28, 2017 Contact Webmaster