Australian River Assessment System (AusRivAS) Bioassessment: Macroinvertebrate
Description and method logic
The purpose of the AusRivAS Bioassessment: Macroinvertebrate methodology is to use a standardised method to monitor and assess the ecological condition of Australia's rivers based on predicted macroinvertebrate numbers and tolerances.
AUSRIVAS models (predict the aquatic macroinvertebrate fauna expected to occur at a site in the absence of environmental stress, such as pollution or habitat degradation) have been developed for each state and territory, for the main habitat types that can be found in Australian river systems. The models can be constructed for a single season or data from several seasons may be combined to provide more robust predictions. To date, the AUSRIVAS predictive system has been developed primarily for lotic environments.
The AusRivAS (Australian River Assessment System) method uses in-stream biota to assess the ecological health of segments of rivers and streams. AUSRIVAS was developed at the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Freshwater Ecology in Canberra and is based on the British River InVertebrate Prediction And Classification System (RIVPACS) II program (Wright et al. 1993). AUSRIVAS consists of standardized sampling methods, computer software and mathematical models, which can be tailor made for use in different aquatic habitats and for different times of the year. These models predict the aquatic macroinvertebrate fauna expected to occur at a site in the absence of environmental stress, such as pollution or habitat degradation. The AUSRIVAS predictive system and associated sampling methods offer a number of advantages over traditional assessment techniques. The sampling methods are standardized, easy to perform and require minimal equipment. Rapid turn around of results is possible and the range of outputs from the AUSRIVAS models are tailored for a range of users including community groups, managers and ecologists.
AUSRIVAS models have been developed for each state and territory, for the main habitat types that can be found in Australian river systems. These habitats include the edge/backwater, main channel, riffle, pool and macrophyte stands. The models can be constructed for a single season or data from several seasons may be combined to provide more robust predictions. To date, the AUSRIVAS predictive system has been developed primarily for lotic environments. Future research and development of the AUSRIVAS system is aimed at widening its scope for use in estuarine and wetland environments.
The structure of plant and animal communities can give an accurate picture of the condition or health of waterways. AusRivAS utilises rapid sampling techniques for the development of predictive models for macroinvertebrate communities within each state/territory, using a 'reference' site database. Comparisons can be made between predicted and observed taxonomic compositions of macroinvertebrate communities in different habitats (habitats include the edge/backwater, main channel, riffle, pool and macrophyte stands) at a site in order to indicate the presence and magnitude of an impact on the site's ecological health. Biological responses to changes in water quality and/or habitat condition in rivers can be assessed. The system can be integrated with the existing network of physico-chemical water quality monitoring.
The physical assessment protocol associated with AusRivAS is described separately.
Criteria groupings of the method
Macroinvertebrate families: observed / expected family numbers and tolerances.
Site description, macroinvertebrate samples, habitat assessment data, reach observations including longitudinal and cross sectional profile sketches. See Macroinvertebrates Bioassessment: Qld Manual and Datasheets
Macroinvertebrate Bioassessment TRAINING AND ACCREDITATION
Field sheets, dedicated database, macroinvertebrate sampling, water quality sampling and habitat assessment equipment, access to a laboratory for macroinvertebrate sample processing and to the AusRivAS model.
For each test site:
Criteria by category
The results are useful for catchment managers, natural resource managers, community groups and government agencies.
Leight, C (2012), Macroinvertebrate responses to dry season and antecedent flow in highly seasonal streams and rivers of the wet – dry tropics, Northern Territory. [online], Australian Rivers Institute, National Water Commission, Canberra. Available at:.
Jones, C, Napier-Munn, T, Olds, A, Thorburn, L, Thorogood, J & Walker, S (2009), Santos Coal Seam Gas Fields: Aquatic Ecology Impact Assessment. [online], FRC Environmental, Brisbane. Available at:.
Last updated: 7 February 2019
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2019) Australian River Assessment System (AusRivAS) Bioassessment: Macroinvertebrate, WetlandInfo website, accessed 2 February 2022. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/resources/tools/assessment-search-tool/australian-river-assessment-system-ausrivas-bioassessment-macroinvertebrate/