Biological Monitoring for MoCo

Field Reports from Department of Environmental Protection Staff

About Biological Monitoring in Montgomery County, MD

WHY DO BIOLOGICAL MONITORING?

Instantaneous water chemistry is collected in County streams, but the data rarely tells us much about the long-term, cumulative health of a stream system, because the system is constantly evolving and changing.

Using biological indicators of water quality provides a stable assessment of the health of our streams, pools, and lakes. The mix of species found, their life-stages, their survival, and their health, reflects the condition of habitat in and around our waterways, as well as the quality of the water itself. 

stream monitoring in action

Stream monitoring in action. The Montgomery County, MD biological monitoring program was begun in 1994 and today the program's scientists monitor the biological life in County streams to help assess watershed conditions.

Biological organisms such as aquatic insects, fish, and stream salamanders rely on clean water, normal stream flows, and supportive habitat conditions to survive. This makes these animals useful indicators of water quality and stream conditions. Program scientists conduct monitoring on:
salamanders in the lab

salamanders in the lab

  • Aquatic Insects

  • Fish

  • Amphibians & Reptiles

  • Crayfish & Freshwater Mussels

  • Habitat Assessments

  • Physical Chemistry

  • Temperature

  • Geomorphology

  • Stream Flow

Rachel Gauza points out fish species to student intern Scott, while interns in the background keep a brown trout happy while he's kept captive for a few minutes.

Rachel Gauza points out fish species to student intern Scott, while interns in the background keep a brown trout happy while he's kept captive for a few minutes.

These data are used to develop assessments of watershed health in the County.  Our aquatic biologists and scientists are experienced in:

  • using monitoring methods and protocols which have been developed over several years in conjunction with scientists from federal and state agencies,
  • detecting and identifying species in the field
  • quality control of data collection both in the field and in the lab
  • quality control of databases from which assessments of watershed health are derived.

Welcome to our site, and read our latest field updates.

Learn more about our monitoring, watershed programs, and stormwater control efforts from the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection.

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