Level 3 Bioassessment: Fish

Fish are widely used by federal, state, and local governments as a key biological assemblage to monitor river and stream health. MBI offers instructional training in the concepts, methods, and applications of fish assemblage data to environmental monitoring and assessment. The training is aimed at qualified practitioners who already have the skills needed to carry out the execution of the methods for collecting and interpreting fish assemblage data. 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 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 3. MBI and Ohio EPA work together to provide all that is necessary to obtain QDC status under the Ohio Credible Data Program.  MBI provides the facilities, equipment and materials, and conducts the training, while Ohio EPA conducts the testing and provides the certification.

Day One: Introduction to Ohio WQS and Biocriteria

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

Day Two: Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI)

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 3 Field Instruction

Day 3 includes in-field instruction for fish sampling at a wading and a boatable site. Trainees will be instructed in Ohio EPA methods for electrofishing including gear operation and safety.

Day Four: Data Analysis & Use Designation Determination

Day 4 includes classroom instruction for managing and analyzing fish 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 (i.e. Use Attainability Analyses or UAAs), assessing use attainment status, and an introduction to stressor identification. Instruction in the identification of external anomalies and calculation of the DELT metric of the IBI. An overview of fish sampling methods includes the selection of the appropriate sampling gear in accordance with Ohio EPA methods.  This completes the training conducted at and by MBI.

Day Five: Laboratory Testing and Wrap-up (at Ohio EPA)

Day 5 is the laboratory testing day conducted exclusively at Ohio EPA consistent with Level 3 specifications.  Trainees will need 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 fish to species and be familiar with fish sampling techniques, including electrofishing.


This course will provide trainees with the knowledge needed to complete the required post-training testing for Level 3 fish community biology which consists of sampling additional sites for fish and QHEI (contact Ohio EPA for more information on additional site requirements). 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 Level 3 QDC status.  For the latest Ohio EPA requirements please visit the Credible Data website: https://www.epa.ohio.gov/dsw/credibledata/index.