What is Long-Term Rapid Bio-Assessment of Byram River Health?

That might sound like a contradiction, but here’s how it works.  Meters, gauging stations, grab samples and field visits all measure at a specific point in time – giving just a snapshot of conditions at one point along the river’s 30 mile flow.   But what if you could implant under rocks some type of long-term biological monitors to absorb passing chemicals and maintain logging 24/7 for several years?  Wouldn’t that give a more accurate reading of what flows to the sea through the water in the system?

Enter our sub-aqueous invertebrate sampling agents.

Enter our sub-aqueous invertebrate sampling agents.

These noble creatures absorb water chemicals and eat from the river for years as they mature.  In responding to the river variations in temperature, oxygen, pollutants, and environmental factors, the resultant species distribution and population density provide the first level of rapid analysis.

When their rock cover is removed and the gravel bed stirred, the bugs are caught in the net held in the downstream current by student volunteers.

© 2010 Mary Mattingly

Thus with this rapid sample of what actually lives under a rock, two levels of detailed analysis are available.  At the first level, the species found and the biology of their distribution is a diagnostic indicator for the health of the river.

At the second level the collected samples are sent to the CT DEP lab and program, where the chemical analysis is performed on their little bodies.   This gives a view over several years of the impact on the river and watershed of various pollutants and influences. These samples can then be compared over time to measure change in the river, and thus a very sensitive environmental monitor service is performed, both by the students and the little critters.  That’s the long-term aspect of  the RBV Program (Rapid Bio-Assessment by Volunteers).

Full program Details Here

More than you probably wanted to know about water bugs.


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