Posts Tagged ‘macroinvertebrates’

River Roundup Show & Tell

Volunteer to study the Huron River! We can’t do it without you.

At HRWC’s River Roundup, our long-running study of the Huron River, volunteers get to know a special place in the Huron’s tributaries, while helping us learn about the river’s health.

River Roundup is an all-age friendly event, where trained volunteers guide small teams in fieldwork to search through river samples for pollution-sensitive ‘bugs’ called macroinvertebrates, that live in our waterways. The event is followed by Insect ID Day where we work inside to identify the species found.

Volunteer videographer: David Brown

David produced “HRWC River Roundup” from concept to creation and did all the scripting, narrating, directing, filming, music and editing. Thank you David for your support of HRWC and the Huron River!

With Jason Frenzel, HRWC Stewardship Coordinator and Zaina Al Habash and Laurie Domaleski

Sign Up! HRWC’s next River Roundup is Saturday, October 14, with Insect ID Day following on Sunday, October 29.

What’s hot and what’s not in the Huron River Watershed

Streams ranked from best to worst: Where does your favorite fall?

On October 3, HRWC volunteers spread across Oakland, Livingston, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties and looked for the aquatic insects and crustaceans that indicate the water and habitat quality of our river and creeks.  

2014 10 18 RU by John Lloyd (8)

Sampling Traver Creek in October. credit: John Lloyd

Using this and other environmental data collected by HRWC volunteers over the past 20 years, I have developed a ranking of the various streams in the Huron River Watershed.  Streams listed at the top of this list have the best aquatic life and habitat in the Huron, and streams at the bottom of list are extremely impaired with little aquatic life and highly disturbed habitat.

Volunteer-collected data directly contributes to our knowledge of the conditions of the watershed and is a key component in directing management and restoration activities.

If you want more details on the ranking below, HRWC will present it and other data findings on January 12, 2016, 6 pm at our office (1100 N Main Street, Ann Arbor). All are welcome and no registration is required.

Ranking of Aquatic Life and Habitat (from best to worst)


1. Huron Creek (Dexter)

2. Woodruff/Mann Creeks (Brighton)

3. Honey Creek (Pinckney)

4. Huron River (Upstream of Proud Lake)


5. Woods Creek (Belleville)

6. Boyden Creek (west of Ann Arbor)

7. Pettibone Creek (Milford)

8. Fleming Creek (Ann Arbor)

9. Huron River (from Proud Lake downstream to Zeeb Road)

10. Portage Creek (Multiple townships to the northwest of Ann Arbor and north of Dexter)

11. Mill Creek (Dexter and Chelsea)

12. Hay Creek (east of Pinckney)


13. Arms Creek (Webster Township)

14. Huron River (Ann Arbor and downstream)

15. Davis Creek (South Lyon)

16. South Ore (Brighton)

17. Honey Creek (west of Ann Arbor)

18. Chilson Creek (west of Brighton)


19. Horseshoe Creek (Whitmore Lake)

20. Downriver Tributaries (Port Creek, Bancroft-Noles Drain near Flat Rock)

21. Traver Creek (Ann Arbor)

22. Malletts Creek (Ann Arbor)

23. Norton Creek (Wixom)

24. Swift Run (Ann Arbor)

25. Millers Creek (Ann Arbor)

Full River Roundup report is available for download.


HRWC’s Volunteer Army Descends on the Watershed!

On October 6, one-hundred twenty brave and intrepid volunteers spread across the Huron River watershed to collect benthic macroinvertebrates: the  crustaceans, insects, and mollusks that live in our creeks and rivers.  Typically, only the healthiest streams will have abundant and diverse populations.  Polluted streams and other streams that are heavily impacted by human activities will hold fewer of these creatures, and may only contain the most pollution tolerant types.  By watching the long-term trends of these populations, HRWC can tell where pollution may be becoming a problem and that helps direct HRWC’s time and effort.

See the full set of results from this past River Roundup event.

Dave Wilson samples Woods Creek midst a flurry of beautiful fall colors.

Overall watershed assessment

In order to get an overall sense of the health of the Huron River Watershed, HRWC samples macroinvertebrates from sixty-six 300 foot sections of the creeks and rivers.  The sampling sites have been selected to provide equal geographic representation from the various areas throughout the watershed.

In regards to their overall quality:

  • 2 sites are excellent (The best, most pristine areas)
  • 17 sites are good (Their macroinvertebrate populations are higher than we would expect based on the stream size, water temperature, and stream substrate).
  • 24 sites are fair (Their macroinvertebrate populations are slightly lower than we would expect based on the stream size, water temperature, and stream substrate)
  • 10 sites are poor (Pollution and other human impacts have severely damaged the macroinvertebrate populations at these sites)
  • 10 sites are new to the program and cannot be judged until more data is collected.

In regards to how the macroinvertebrate populations are changing at these sites:

  • 28 sites have remained largely unchanged since monitoring began on them
  • 15 sites have improved
  • 13 sites have declined
  • 10 sites are new to the program and cannot be judged until more data is collected.

Trend analysis shows tremendous variation by County

Three counties contain most of the Adopt-a-Stream sampling sites: Livingston, Oakland, and Washtenaw. When HRWC analyzed overall trends by county, a clear distinction appeared. The upstream counties, Oakland and Livingston, both showed roughly one third of sites declining, and no more than one tenth of sites improving. On the other hand, in Washtenaw County hardly any sites were declining and nearly half the sites were improving!

With results such as this, it is easy to start pointing fingers or consider the amount of money spent by these counties in improving water quality.  However, streams are complex systems, with many stressors, and this  analysis does not address the reasons for the differences we are seeing between the counties.

The two additional watershed counties, Wayne and Monroe, had too few study sites to detect overall trends.

Other noteworthy results

Drought causes influx of “marsh-loving” species into the Huron.

  • This year we saw a marked increase in marsh flies, marsh beetles, mosquitoes, and water treaders in the River Roundup samples. These critters prefer a habitat of slow-moving or stagnant water. This year’s drought has caused the flow in the Huron and it’s tributaries to slacken, and smaller regional pools, marshes, and wetlands to dry up. Whether these critters are moving in from dried-out-homes or flourishing in a sluggish creeks (or most likely both), the recent changes in weather patterns are certainly affecting the types of insects found in the Huron River.  (For comparison, last autumn’s heavy rains caused a corresponding drop in the prevalence of these species).

Good News at Mallet’s Creek: Restoration efforts look to be paying off!

  • Mallets Creek is one of the Huron’s most disturbed streams, earning an overall rating of poor. The creek is “flashy,” flooding dramatically with rainfall, which results in erosion and an influx of pollutants.  To address this problem, the City of Ann Arbor, the Washtenaw County Office of Water Resources Commissioner, and the Michigan Department of Environment Quality (DEQ) are collaborating on restoration efforts in the area. Ongoing projects include the creation of a 15 million gallon wet meadow, stream bank stabilization, and seeding of native vegetation. These efforts, along with homeowner-installed rain gardens and rain barrels, help decrease stormwater flashes.  Source:
  • This fall’s sampling of Mallet’s revealed encouraging improvement; An unusual increase in insect families were found.  For instance, volunteers collected 11 insect families compared to the recent average of 7.2. Species not seen at this site since 1996 were discovered, including the water boatman, finger-net caddisfly, and marsh beetle. While these improvements are not yet statistically significant, they are a great sign that local restoration projects are making a difference for our waterways.
Special note:  Volunteer Genevieve Leet contributed extensively to this data analysis and this blog. Thanks for your help, Genevieve!

Donate to HRWC
Huron River Water Trail
Coal Tar Sealers
Donate to HRWC
rss .FaceBook-Logo.twitter-logo Youtubelogo