National Park Service


Date of this Version



Tronstad, L. 2012. Aquatic invertebrate monitoring at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument: 2010 annual report. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NGPN/NRTR—2012/654. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.


Aquatic invertebrates are excellent indicators of ecosystem quality, and these animals have been used to monitor ecosystems since the 1870s (Cairns and Pratt 1993). Growth, survival, and reproduction of aquatic invertebrates are sensitive to declines in environmental quality allowing analysis of assemblage structure to monitor lakes, streams, and wetlands (Johnson et al. 1993). Aquatic invertebrates are ideal indicator species, because they are ubiquitous, abundant, relatively long-lived, diverse, and typically sedentary (Rosenberg and Resh 1993b). In contrast, water samples can be directly analyzed for suspected pollutants, but such samples are snapshots of water quality only and can easily miss discrete discharges of pollutants or other undesirable conditions. In addition, analyzing water samples can be costly, making aquatic invertebrates a cost-effective alternative. Aquatic invertebrates integrate ecosystem quality throughout their lives, and much research has focused on how pollution alters assemblages (e.g., Rosenberg and Resh 1993a).