The Citizen Science program Streamwatch now has volunteers working in the Australian Museum Entomology lab.

Many insects live in freshwater streams alongside other groups such as molluscs, worms and crustaceans. Monitoring the instream faunal assemblages provides a more integrated insight into the changes that occur in water quality over time. Plus, people appreciate a whole ecosystem approach and love working with live animals.

MicroVols in the Lab
Streamwatch volunteers working in the Entomology lab at the Australian Museum identifying macro invertebrates. Image: Greg McDonald
© Australian Museum

Our Streamwatch volunteers are often blown away by the biodiversity they find in healthy streams.

To help volunteers identify freshwater macroinvertebrates more confidently and accurately we are providing training in the Australian Museum’s Entomology lab. Known as Microvols our volunteers are learning to use microscopes and identification keys to sort through previously unsorted samples held in the Museum.

The first phase of training provides confidence in identifying specimens to Order level, such as being able to tell a mayfly from a stonefly. Subsequent sessions will enable the volunteers to make more detailed Family-level identifications.

The Microvol trainees will be accredited so they can mentor their Streamwatch groups in identifying fauna during Waterbug Watch. The first cohort of Microvols have completed phase one of training and the second cohort have started.

The Microvols are also test-piloting a draft key to freshwater gastropods now being developed by Anders Hallan and his colleagues in Malacology. We hope that the current enthusiasm continues and that we can add further value to this initiative – those wanting more lab time will be given the opportunity to help develop a voucher collection of specimens from Sydney streams sampled over a decade ago.