Level 2 Bioassessment: Macroinvertebrates

Macroinvertebrates have been used to assess river and stream health for decades and they are the longest used biological assemblage. Methods for sampling macroinvertebrates can vary widely as does the level to which they are identified. As such the level of taxonomy is a critical aspect of any macroinvertebrate based assessment method. MBI offers training in bioassessment using macroinvertebrates at two levels – family and lowest practical level which usually means genus or species. The focus of this training is on the methods and biocriteria used by Ohio EPA and as such it fulfills the training required for those who are pursuing Level 2 or 3 Qualified Data Collector (QDC) status under the Ohio Credible Data Program. It also includes instruction on using the QHEI thus fulfilling the QDC requirements for Level 2 or 3. MBI provides the facilities, equipment, and materials used in the training. MBI conducts the testing necessary to seek Level 2 QDC status, while Ohio EPA Conducts testing for Level 3 QDC Status under the Ohio Credible Data Program.

Day One: Introduction to Ohio WQS and Biocriteria – Classroom Instruction

Day one includes a detailed overview of the Fundamentals of Aquatic Ecology, Monitoring and Assessment Design, the Ohio Water Quality Standards (WQS), and the development of biocriteria and their use that includes a hands-on exercise. An overview of the Ohio Credible Data Program and instructions on obtaining QDC status is also included.

Day Two: Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) – Classroom Instruction and Field Training

Participants will learn about the origins and the components of the QHEI as a habitat assessment tool in a morning classroom session. Field training takes place in the afternoon and includes Level 2 testing.

Day Three: Level 2 & 3 Field Training

Day 3 includes in-field instruction for Level 3 macroinvertebrate sample collection including setting and retrieving artificial substrates and collecting qualitative samples. Level 2 trainees will be instructed in macroinvertebrate sample collection and how to use family level data. All Level 2 and 3 trainees will take the required family level identification test in the lab.

This concludes Level 2 training and testing. Those pursuing Level 3 QDC status should proceed to days four and five.

Day Four: Data Analysis & Use Designation Determination – Classroom Instruction

Day 4 includes classroom instruction for managing and analyzing macroinvertebrate data including calculating the indices that comprise the Ohio biocriteria. Case studies will cover the analysis of data and includes determining the appropriate use designation, assessing use attainment status, and an introduction to stressor identification. Level 3 trainees will prepare an artificial substrate sample for processing.  This completes the training conducted at and by MBI.

This concludes Level 3 Sample Collection and Data Analysis Only. Those pursuing Level 3 Sample Collection, Identification, and Data Analysis should proceed to day five.

Day Five: Testing and Wrap-up – Laboratory and Classroom Instruction

Day 5 includes a macroinvertebrate identification test of 25 specimens to lowest practical taxonomic level conducted exclusively by Ohio EPA, and consistent with Level 3 identification specifications.  Trainees will be expected to report to the Ohio EPA Groveport Field Facility for this session, and Ohio EPA will conduct all testing and grading from this point forward.  This half-day session wraps-up with instructions about post-training testing, results submission to Ohio EPA, and an overview about how and when to apply to Ohio EPA for QDC status. 

Recommended Background

Trainees should be proficient in the identification of Ohio macroinvertebrate taxa to family level for Level 2 and Level 3 Sample Collection/Data Analysis only. Trainees for Level 3 Sample Collection/Identification/Data Analysis need to be proficient at the lowest practical level of taxonomy. Level 2 trainees should be familiar with the MAIS method of sample collection. All Level 3 trainees should be familiar with macroinvertebrate sampling techniques as outlined in the Ohio EPA methods manual for collection of OCD L3 data. This manual can be found by clicking here or on the Ohio EPA website. It will also be provided as part of the training materials.


This course will provide trainees with the information needed to complete the testing requirements for Level 2 and Level 3 certifications. For Level 2 this includes a family level test on day 3. Level 3 testing will consist of a mix of sample collection, sample identification, and data analysis including calculation of the Ohio ICI. Once all of the required testing has been completed by a Level 2 trainee, MBI will grade and provide the results to each trainee. Ohio EPA conducts the testing and grading for all Level 3 candidates.  In the event a trainee fails any portion of their testing they will be provided options for retesting. Trainees who receive a passing grade can apply to Ohio EPA for QDC status.