US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in WETLANDS, Vol. 21, No. 2, June 2001, pp. 223–231.


We evaluated the use of macroinvertebrates as a potential tool to identify dry and intensively farmed temporary and seasonal wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region. The techniques we designed and evaluated used the dried remains of invertebrates or their egg banks in soils as indicators of wetlands. For both the dried remains of invertebrates and their egg banks, we weighted each taxon according to its affinity for wetlands or uplands. Our study clearly demonstrated that shells, exoskeletons, head capsules, eggs, and other remains of macroinvertebrates can be used to identify wetlands, even when they are dry, intensively farmed, and difficult to identify as wetlands using standard criteria (i.e., hydrology, hydrophytic vegetation, and hydric soils). Although both dried remains and egg banks identified wetlands, the combination was more useful, especially for identifying drained or filled wetlands. We also evaluated the use of coarse taxonomic groupings to stimulate use of the technique by nonspecialists and obtained satisfactory results in most situations.