Our Healthy Streams: Home to a diverse set of critters
On October 28th, our Conservation Team worked with a handful of IWL members to complete aquatic macroinvertebrate sampling to study and monitor the health of our streams. This sampling involved the collection and analysis of small, spineless organisms that live in the water, such as insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and worms. These macroinvertebrates play a crucial role in stream ecosystems as they serve as indicators of water quality and ecological integrity.
The stream assessment we completed, including the aquatic macroinvertebrates sampling, which is a vital tool for understanding the health of streams in Virginia, and especially the condition of the streams on our property. These small organisms serve as reliable indicators of water quality and ecosystem integrity, providing valuable insights into the impacts of pollution and habitat degradation. Based on the stream sampling, 85% of the types of macroinvertebrates we collected are pollution intolerant, which means that they only survive in streams with healthy chemical and biological conditions. The diversity and kind of macroinvertebrates collected confirm that the water and streams on our property are healthy and provide aquatic habitat conditions for pollution sensitive aquatic critters.
In addition to the macroinvertebrates found (such as crayfish), our team collected and observed frogs and salamanders. Amphibians, like frogs and salamanders, typically eat a variety of macroinvertebrates like insects, worms, and small crustaceans. In autumn, some amphibians migrate to breeding sites, which may include streams. Their presence in and around these stream areas contributes to nutrient cycling. Collectively, these amphibians as well as the range of macroinvertebrates found in our streams, help maintain biodiversity and play a vital role in maintaining the environmental health of Virginia's streams. In addition, by sharing the results of our sampling efforts, scientists can monitor ecosystem changes and make informed conservation decisions.
Erika Wettergreen – Conservation Chairerika[AT]wettergreen[DOT]com
Save Our Streams:
Virginia Save Our Streams is a program of the Izaak Walton League of America.
Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected conservation organizations. Virginians have the right to know whether our streams are safe for swimming, fishing, playing, and drinking. Virginia Save Our Streams monitors water quality of Virginia’s streams and educates the public about the importance of clean water. We are still looking for the macroinvertebrate equipment.
An option for the macroinvertebrate equipment would be to make our own. The instructions are http://dep.wv.gov/WWE/getinvolved/sos/Documents/SOSKit/HomemadeEquipment.pdf. simple and easy to follow. One of the Committee members
has a source for a few more pieces of PVC. Look and see if you can help.
The chapter seeks volunteers to help start a stream-monitoring program for five areas around the property. If interested contact Eric Brown or Erika Wettergreen on how you can help.