CSI’s Biological Monitoring program just got a big boost, thanks to a donation of six dissecting microscopes from the Ithaca College Biology Department. Microscopes are necessary for identifying benthic macroinvertebrates as part of CSI’s biological monitoring program.
Benthic macroinvertebrates are aquatic insects that live at the bottom of streams. They are excellent indicators of water quality because organisms vary in their tolerance to pollution. Biological monitoring involves collecting samples of these organisms, identifying and counting them, and applying metrics to evaluate water quality.
Biological monitoring gives us an idea of water quality over the long-term, whereas performing chemical tests on water samples gives you specific information about water quality on a certain day.
Volunteers typically collect BMI samples once per year from about 15 locations during summer months. The samples are then processed throughout the fall and winter. Counting and identifying samples takes many hours, even for the most advanced volunteers.
The new donation of dissecting microscopes greatly increases our capacity to host volunteers in our lab for identification sessions, and gives us the option to loan out the microscopes to volunteers for at-home identification. Thanks again to Ithaca College’s Biology Department!