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  • Writer's pictureBrendan Cox

The Tiny Heroes of Our Aquatic Ecosystems: Why Macroinvertebrates Matter and How to Protect Them


Welcome to my blog, where I share my passion for healthy rivers and healthy communities in Australia. In this post, I want to talk about why healthy macroinvertebrate communities require healthy rivers, and what we can do to protect them.


Macroinvertebrates are small animals that live in water, such as insects, worms, snails, and crustaceans. They play a vital role in the aquatic ecosystem, as they are food for fish and birds, decompose organic matter, recycle nutrients, and indicate water quality. Macroinvertebrate populations are healthiest in streams where habitats are diverse and stable, with well-vegetated riverbanks, mixtures of course and fine rocks and pebbles on the stream bed, and a variety of riffles and pools.


Unfortunately, many of our rivers are under threat from human activities that degrade water quality and habitat. Some of these threats include salinity, pollution, erosion, sedimentation, invasive species, over-extraction, climate change, and land use change. These threats can reduce the diversity and abundance of macroinvertebrates, which in turn can affect the health of the whole river system and the communities that depend on it.


So, what can we do to help our macroinvertebrate friends? Here are some actions that we can take as individuals and as a society:

Reduce our water use and waste by installing water-efficient appliances, fixing leaks, collecting rainwater, and reusing greywater.

  • Avoid using chemicals and fertilizers that can run off into rivers and harm macroinvertebrates and other aquatic life.

  • Plant native vegetation along riverbanks to prevent erosion, provide shade, filter pollutants, and create habitat for macroinvertebrates.

  • Participate in citizen science programs that monitor macroinvertebrate communities and water quality in our local rivers.

  • Support organizations that advocate for water for the environment and sustainable water management.

  • Educate ourselves and others about the importance of healthy rivers and healthy communities.

By taking these steps, we can make a difference for our macroinvertebrate communities and our rivers. By protecting and restoring our macroinvertebrate communities, we can ensure that our rivers are resilient and productive for generations to come. If you want to learn more about how to assess and improve river health using macroinvertebrates, contact River Ecology Australia, we can provide educational services and workshops for community groups, schools, and organizations. River Ecology Australia also offers river health assessment and macroinvertebrate identification services. Together, we can make a difference for our rivers and our future.

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1 Comment


jessica.lumbroso
Apr 18, 2023

YaY for protecting waterways health, learning about water bugs and river restoration 🌱💧🪲


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