Oral Presentation 9th Australian Stream Management Conference 2018

Tactics for stretching a waterbug based monitoring program across a continent (#4)

John Gooderham 1 , Birgita Hansen 2 , Ingrid Garland 3 , Michael Sharman 4 , Deirdre Murphy 5 , Scott Limmer 2 , Patrick Bonney 2
  1. The National Waterbug Blitz, LENAH VALLEY, TAS, Australia
  2. Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation, Federation University Australia , Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
  3. EnviroComm Connections Pty Ltd, Sydney, NSW
  4. The Code Sharman, Primrose Sands, TASMANIA, Australia
  5. Waterwatch, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Colac, Victoria, Australia

The principle aim of the National Waterbug Blitz was to bring together existing Waterwatch style programs from around Australia and provide them a shared set of waterbug identification and waterway assessment resources.  Coupled with an annual event, this provides a snapshot of the health of waterways nationally  This task is complicated by:

-different states identifying their waterbugs to different taxonomic levels

-different groups of people having different amounts of time that they are prepared to spend volunteering for the program

This paper introduces techniques that have the potential to turn these impediments into data of appropriate quality for assessing waterways, while engaging and educating users. 

The National Waterbug Blitz uses three tiers of activity, each subsequent level more complicated than the previous:

  1. The mayfly muster will simply identify the presence of Ephemeroptera across the landscape, mapping in detail the boundary around urban areas where water quality is too poor for them to persist.
  2. Order level waterbug assessments are used in several states, and can be used to generate assessments of waterway health
  3. The Agreed Level Taxonomy (ALT) can be used to generate assessments of waterway health, and teaches users to identify a wide range of different waterbugs. This provides additional information on biodiversity as well as waterway health at a site.

A variety of quality control procedures, managed through an associated app, allow novice data to sit alongside that of experienced waterbug monitoring volunteers and contribute to waterway assessments.

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