State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2007ND144B
Title: Use of Artificial Substrates and Dipnet for Sampling Aquatic Macroinvertebrates in the Red River of the North
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2007
End Date: 2/29/2008
Congressional District: 1
Focus Categories: Water Quality, Ecology, Conservation
Keywords: Microinvertebrates, Artificial substrate, biomonitoring, Benthic resources, Samplin protocol
Principal Investigator: Butler, Malcolm George (North Dakota State University)
Federal Funds: $ 2,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 4,000
Abstract: Aquatic macroinvertebrates are an important component in biomonitoring studies designed to evaluate overall water resource quality, benthic food resources for fishes, and effects of specific anthropogenic disturbances in flowing waters. Development of effective and standardized sampling protocols is essential to any study of river integrity and subsequent biomonitoring. Most established sampling methods for aquatic macroinvertebrate have been developed for wadable lotic systems. Studies of macroinvertebrate communities in large rivers are few, relative to research in wadeable streams. This disparity is due largely to logistical problems of working in larger rivers, as well as a poorly-known aquatic fauna that is difficult to sample in many microhabitats. As sampling techniques used in wadable streams and rivers have been increasingly refined and accepted, a growing number of monitoring agencies (both governmental and private-sector) are becoming interested in development of biological monitoring protocols for larger, non-wadable rivers. Establishing a cost effective, logistically feasible, and adaptable sampling protocol for use in larger rivers is a broadly recognized need among both researchers and managers of aquatic ecosystems. The Red River of the North is a northward-flowing, nonwadable river forming the border between eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. This river provides multiple uses for people in the region, including water supply, disposal of treated waste, and recreation. With the support of a 2006 NDWRRI fellowship, extensive macroinvertebrate samples were collected over a 64km reach of the Red River centered on Fargo-Moorhead. These samples provide the basis for a better characterization of the Red River?s macroinvertebrate fauna, and evaluation of how this fauna can best be monitored to assist in biological assessment of the river's ecological functioning. The emphasis of the sampling in 2007 will be to identify the benthic habitats used by important macroinvertebrate taxa collected in drift samples in 2006, and determine how best to sample those organisms that seem potentially most useful in future biological monitoring. We will compare the effectiveness of standard Hester-Dendy artificial substrates with custom-made ash log substrates intended to mimic the natural woody debris found in the river. We will also continue to explore spatial and temporal variation in the macrobenthic community through the open water season, to provide information useful in development of long-term biological monitoring protocols for the Red River. A better understanding of the invertebrate fauna of this river will enhance our understanding of the Red River as an ecosystem, to the benefit of water resources in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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