The Urban-Rural Biomonitoring & Assessment Network. A citizen-science project in Hamilton, Ontario.

Benthic Invertebrates

Invertebrates represent all of the animals that do not have an internal skeleton. Benthic invertebrates are the major invertebrate group found within streams, and are most commonly found in the larval stages. The word “benthic” specifically refers to organisms associated with the bottom of a stream or lake. Benthic invertebrates play many important roles in ecosystem function including the breakdown and recycling of organic nutrients in the water, and more notably as a food source for fish and amphibians. Benthic invertebrates are also important as indicators of the health of freshwater streams (Voshell 2002). Invertebrate species such as mayflies (Ephemeroptera), stoneflies (Plecoptera) and caddisflies (Tricoptera) are not likely to be found in a stream with poor water quality (high nitrogen, phosphorus, turbidity).

What can you do to help?

Long-term citizen-science biomonitoring programs, such as URBAN and Adopt-a-Creek, are essential to track changes in stream health in the Hamilton Region. “Only rain down the drain” is another important change you can make at home, by properly disposing of hazardous chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals.


Surveying benthic invertebrates in streams is done as a group and we will either meet you at the stream or carpool from McMaster University.  Monitoring benthic invertebrates does not require attending the Spring Training Workshop but it is a good place to get an idea of what is involved. Volunteers can choose how many streams they want to survey with the because many surveys will be planned throughout the month of May.  You can also choose to help out on weekends, weekdays, or both.


URBAN is a citizen science monitoring program for the City of Hamilton, enabling you to experience and contribute to the preservation of wildlife and natural areas within and around the city.