Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI)

What is the QHEI

The Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) was developed at Ohio EPA in the 1980's as a habitat assessment to accompany the bioassessments conducted in streams and rivers throughout Ohio. Since then it has been widely used by numerous state and local organizations as a qualitative habitat assessment done in combination with fish assemblage assessments. The QHEI can be used as an independent method to assess stream habitat, making it an ideal tool that is easily applied in a wide range of biological assessments. The focus is on the use of the QHEI to assess stream habitat for specific purposes such as stream mitigation, use attainability determinations, and assessing the effectiveness of stream restoration projects. It fulfills the training required for those who are pursuing Level 2 Qualified Data Collector status under the Ohio Credible Data Program.

Recommended Background

Particpants should be generally familiar with the biological, chemical, and physical characteristics of streams and rivers and have prior field experience.


This course will provide trainees with the knowledge needed to complete the in-class testing by MBI to obtain Level 2 QDC status. Trainees will be informed about their test results and upon receiving a passing grade can then apply to Ohio EPA for their Level 2 QDC certification. 

*Please Note: Ohio EPA adopted revised credible data rules effective March 1, 2021.  As a result, there is no longer a stand-alone Level 3 QDC Certification for QHEI. Obtaining a Level 3 QHEI is now possible only via one of the biological assemblage specialties: Fish/Habitat or Macroinvertebrates/Habitat. The Level 3 QHEI testing and QDC correspondence is handled by Ohio EPA. For more information please see MBI L3 QDC Fish/Habitat or MBI L3 QDC Macroinvertebrates/Habitat

In addition, the rules added Level 3 specialties for Salamanders and Headwater Habitat Evaluation Index (HHEI). We anticipate that new training requirements will be forthcoming from Ohio EPA, and MBI hopes to offer training that meets these requirements at that time. Primary Headwater Habitat Training (PHWH) data are still used and accepted by Ohio EPA in their present form and we will continue to offer this course, and Level 2 QHEI training and testing as we have in the past until revised by Ohio EPA.  

Course Schedule:

Day One: QHEI Classroom Instruction 

Includes a detailed overview of the QHEI, and an overview of the Ohio Water Quality Standards (WQS) and Biocriteria and their relationship to the QHEI. An overview of the Ohio Credible Data Program and an explanation of how to pursue Qualified Data Collector (QDC) status is also included.  Each participant will be be provided with access to course materials prior to the course.

Day Two: QHEI Field Training

Consists of completing QHEIs at 3 stream sites. Level 2 testing is completed at the last site visited and the results are graded by MBI.