Primary Headwater Habitat (PHWH) Training

The Primary Headwater Habitat (PHWH) course trains individuals in the use of a set of methods designed to assess the ecological condition of smaller streams. For these resources the evaluation methods for biological and habitat assessments used on larger streams and rivers do not work. PHWH assessment methods can be applied to properly classify the actual and expected biological conditions in primary headwater habitat streams. In such small streams the measures of quality shift to specifically developed physical habitat, macroinvertebrate, amphibian, and headwater fish community assessments.  These serve as measures of stream health and are used to place streams in their appropriate classes.

Day One: Classroom Training

The course starts with a full day of classroom instruction covering the science, principles, uses and protocols of primary headwater habitat assessments. The protocols for the Level 1 Headwater Habitat Evaluation Index (HHEI), a measure of stream physical habitat features, and Level 2 and 3 bioassessment methods for salamander and invertebrate communities will be presented along with discussion of the role of fish in primary headwater stream class assignments. Identification characteristics of headwater vertebrate and invertebrate species will be discussed and observed. Additionally, evaluation of all the forms of data available to assign appropriate use designations to headwater streams will be thoroughly covered.

Day Two: Field Training

Participants will practice hands-on application of the PHWH methods in local headwater streams. The Field training will cover protocols for the Headwater Habitat Evaluation Index (HHEI), Headwater Macroinvertebrate Field Evaluation Index (HMFEI), Level 3 headwater macroinvertebrate assessment, Level 2 and 3 salamander surveys, and the headwater fish evaluation process. Instructors will advise students in the use of the methods and aid participants in becoming competent in conducting the evaluation processes.


Participants will leave the course with a strong understanding of primary headwater stream ecology and will know the protocols to conduct Level 1 habitat evaluations and the Level 2 and 3 biological assessment methods. Participants will also gain a strong knowledge of how to use the available data to properly classify headwater streams, and will receive a certificate documenting completion of the course.

Please Note:

The PHWH course is available at a discounted rate if you are also attending the June 24-25 QHEI course. To register for both, you must proceed first to the June 24-25 QHEI, register first for this course, then select the PHWH Add-on.

* This course is eligible for Contining Education Unit credits under the Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program.