Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Program in Water Research at 
Colorado State University

Mentor Information

Name William H. Clements

Title Professor

Department Fishery and Wildlife Biology

Work Phone 491-0690

FAX 491-5091


Project Title Effects of Sampler Mesh Size on Metrics used to Assess Water Quality using Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities

Project Abstract The Front Range of Colorado is currently being subjected to extreme urban growth. Combined with past land use practices this has altered the natural condition of regional streams. Changes in water quality can be detected using a variety of metrics that describe macroinvertebrate community structure and function. Recent demands to improve water quality along the Front Range of Colorado has influenced the need to determine what regional components of biological communities respond to changes in water quality. Specific regional studies are often conducted that address which metrics discriminate between disturbed and undisturbed sites. However, a substantial amount of existing macroinvertebrate data is available for many of the streams along the Front Range of Colorado; therefore a new intensive regional study may not be necessary. The existing macroinvertebrate information was collected by multiple agencies using a variety of mesh sizes fitted to their sampling devices. The utility of this existing data set for developing a suite of metrics that distinguish between levels of impairment depends upon the effects that mesh size has on metric variation. This project will investigate the effects of sampler mesh size on regional benthic macroinvertebrate metric variation. The undergraduate researcher will learn sampling, processing, macroinvertebrate identification, and data analysis techniques used in the field of biomonitoring. Results of this project will direct the development of a regional index for measuring water quality using benthic macroinvertebrate data.The Front Range of Colorado is currently