Find a riffle that is typical of the stream. A good riffle for sampling will have cobble-sized stones, fast-moving water, and a depth of 3 to 12 inches. Select a 3-foot by 3-foot area within the riffle for sampling.
NOTE: If the site is to be used for long-term monitoring it will be easier to relocate it if there are nearby landmarks that can be used to identify the site.
2. Positioning the kick seine
Have one person hold the net upright facing the flow at the downstream edge of the sampling area. The net should be stretched out to its full 3-foot width with the bottom edge lying firmly against the stream bed. No water should wash under or over the net. If needed, small rocks can be used to weigh down the bottom edge of the net.
NOTE: To avoid losing macroinvertebrates that should be part of the sample, do not stand in or disturb the sampling area before the kick seine is in place. To avoid capturing macroinvertebrates that should not be part of the sample, do not stand in or disturb the stream bed above the sample area.
3. Collecting the sample
All macroinvertebrates in the 3-foot by 3-foot sample area are to be washed into the kick seine. While one person holds the net, a second person first brushes all the cobbles in the sampling area to dislodge the attached macroinvertebrates. As each cobble is brushed, it can be placed outside the sampling area. When all the cobbles are brushed, stir up the entire sampling area with hands and feet to dislodge any burrowing macroinvertebrates. Finally, for at least sixty seconds, kick the stream bed with a sideways shuffling motion towards the net. The object is to thoroughly work up the stream bed to a depth of several inches.
4. Removing the kick seine from the water
When Step 3 is completed, lift the kick seine out of the water with a forward scooping motion. The object is to avoid losing any macroinvertebrate specimens while the seine is lifted. This will be easier if one person holds the top of the kick seine handles while the other person holds the bottom of the handles.
5. Removing the sample from the kick seine
Carry the kick seine to the stream bank and spread it out flat. Carefully examine the net and the collected debris for macroinvertebrates. Look carefully as many specimens will be small and hard to see. Using tweezers or fingers, place all the specimens in white containers filled with stream water. Sort them into different types as you remove them from the net, and place each type in a separate container.
NOTE: If your plan is to transport the sample back to your "lab" before sorting and identification, you can place the contents of the kick seine (including the debris) into a bucket that is partly filled with stream water. If you put a lid on the bucket (recommended), you should leave some air space above the water in the bucket to allow mixing of oxygen.
Once the macroinvertebrates are collected and sorted, they can be identified in the field using the identification key provided in the Monitor's Guide to Aquatic Macroinvertebrates. This booklet can be obtained from the Save Our Streams Project (see Additional Information Sources).
If you are identifying the macorinvertebrates in the "lab" and you have access to a computer, you can use the Macroinvertebrate Identification Key included with the Stream Study.
7. Recording and assessment
Complete a Sample Record and Assessment Form for each site sampled.
8. Safety issues.
See Safety precautions before going to the field.
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