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Aquatic Ecology & Biomonitoring

The Aquatic Ecology and Biomonitoring Unit offer a range of professional services from macroinvertebrate identification to full ecological surveys and environmental flow determinations. The group has been responsible for the Environment Australia's AusRivAS project within South Australia since its inception. As part of the Australian Water Quality Centre, we can offer a full range of chemical and microbiological services which complement our biological results.

The scope of biomonitoring services at AWQC includes:

Design and Implementation of Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Surveys/Ecological Surveys and Biomonitoring of Aquatic Ecosystems

The Biomonitoring Team has extensive experience in the design and implementation of complex ecological studies within aquatic habitats. Ecological surveys can use a number of approaches to determine the health of a system and pinpoint causes of poor ecosystem health. They can help bring to light sources of pollution, highlight habitat and water quality inadequacies and determine flow requirements. Our experienced team can provide a study framework that is tailored to suit specific requirements.

Design and Implementation of Fish Studies

The Biomonitoring Team has designed and conducted numerous fish surveys in the field as well as desktop studies. We have been involved in a wide range of fish projects in all major regions of South Australia including the re-introduction of native species to degraded habitats; the determination of species distributions in impacted areas; the interactions between introduced and native fish and the improvement of techniques for the use of fish as environmental indicators.

Determination of Environmental Water Requirements

Different macroinvertebrates have varying methods of feeding, breathing and reproducing, requiring different water flow requirements. Determining which species are challenged by a particular flow pattern can be undertaken by reviewing existing ecosystem health data and/or conducting targeted assessments. The geographically extensive field experience of the Biomonitoring Team and their detailed knowledge of species distributions helps to build informed professional judgement that is used to conduct assessments of this type.

Application of the AusRivAS Model

The Australian Rivers Assessment System (AusRivAS) is a set of predictive computer models. The AusRivAS models can be used to assess the health of stream and river systems by analysing the macroinvertebrate communities present within the physical context of the system. Survey results are compared to the model expectations, which are based on samples collected from pristine systems across the State. The AusRivAS outputs guide resource managers in the comparison of sites across catchments and the identification of changes in stream health over time.

Biomonitoring of Industry Impacts

Wastewater treatment plants, mines and other industries produce effluent and/or waste that may be high in nutrients, heavy metals and other products harmful to the environment. By monitoring industry outfall and its reach, we are able to assess its impact on the receiving environment. We are subsequently able to provide professional advice and recommendations which will contribute to improvements in environmental performance.

Collection and Identification of Zooplankton

At the AWQC, we have the ability to identify most microcrustaceans to family level, while some of the more commonly found animals can be identified to genus. Currently our expertise is limited to South Australia.

Sediment sampling for Benthic Macroinvertebrates

The Biomonitoring Team is experienced at sampling sediments for benthic macroinvertebrates from waterways and wastewater treatment plants and their subsequent taxonomic identification.

Aquatic Ecology Fact Sheet