Biological testing of freshwater macro-invertebrates or ‘water bugs’ offer a whole hidden world of interest and are a readily accessible asset for anyone wanting to learn more about them. They are incredibly diverse living organisms that share complex interactions with one another and the environments they inhabit.
This diverse group of animals are characterised by their dependence on aquatic habitats for all or part of their life cycle, the absence of a spine or backbone (invertebrate) and their ability to be observed with the naked eye (macro). These creatures can offer scientists and the general public significant insight into the environmental health of the water, in which they live. Freshwater macro-invertebrates are considered by scientists to be a very useful biological indicator of the ecological health of a waterway and consequently of the surrounding catchment.
The simple premise behind water bugs being used as bio-indicators is that science has shown that different groups/families show differing sensitivities to pollutants in the water. While some groups are considered to be highly tolerant to pollution in the water, many are unable to survive in water that has been contaminated by pollutants. Therefore where some species will only be found in clean and healthy water, others will happily occupy waterways that are heavily polluted. Although it is important to remember that these animals are just as happy in clean water too. The sensitivity of different species of water bugs to varying levels of water pollution can be investigated in great detail. A system has been developed that allows virtually anyone to make a reasonable assessment of a waterway’s health based on what water bugs they might find.
Check the How To page for the methods and data sheets, which are provided in order for these analyses to be able to be carried out at home or in the field, without the presence of a Waterwatch officer. If you would like to purchase one of our 'Waterwatch Macroinvertebrates' identification charts please check out the 'shop' page. Also click the link in order to download the Fresh Water Macroinvertebrate App that can be used on any tablet device.
For further information on terrestrial or marine environmental lessons please feel free to Contact Us, as we are more than happy to assist you with these needs.