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 stream and rivers throughout Ohio. Since then it has been widely used by numerous state and local organizations throughout the Midwest and New England 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 or 3 Qualified Data Collector status under the Ohio Credible Data Program.

Day One: Introduction to the 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.

Day Two: QHEI Field Training

Consists of completing QHEIs at 3-4 stream sites. Level 2 testing is completed at the last site visited.

Recommended Background

Trainees 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 to obtain Level 2 QDC status. Trainees who wish to pursue Level 3 QDC status will need to complete post-training testing at 3 additional sites provided by Ohio EPA. MBI will grade the submission of each trainee per Ohio EPA specifications and provide the results to Ohio EPA. Trainees will be informed about their test results and with a passing grade they can then apply to Ohio EPA for the appropriate QDC status.

Please Note:

  • You do not need to register for the June 4-5th QHEI course separately if you are already planning to attend the Qualified Data Collector (QDC) training; QHEI is included as part of the QDC training.
  • QHEI courses offered do not differ in content related to details of scoring the QHEI. All QHEI courses still allow participants to obtain the same QDC certifications. 
  • The June 4-5 training differs as follows:
    • Is more suitable to someone already somewhat experienced in the QHEI and uses of the data, and those intending to later pursue QDC certification in fish or macroinvertebrate specialties.
    • Is less detailed in the use of the QHEI in Use Attainability Analyses (this is however discussed in greater detail if continuing on to Day 4 of the QDC training).
    • Has less field time compared to the courses that are not part of the QDC training.
    • Offers more detail on biological criteria concepts and use during Day 1 of the training. This is in order to support the Level III biological training needs during the QDC training.