Effectiveness of an artificial substrate for sampling macroinvertebrates in small streams

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Roby, K.B., J.D. Newbold, and D.C. Erman. 1978. Freshwater Biology 8(1):1–8.

doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2427.1978.tb01420.x


Factors affecting invertebrate colonization of samplers consisting of twenty-five 5-cm diameter porcelain balls were studied in small northern California streams. Peaks in diversity, in number of individuals and in taxa, occurred after 2–4 weeks in each of four 10-week colonization runs. Most variation in number of organisms was correlated with increases in organic detritus. Time was the second most important variable.

The average coefficient of variation in total numbers collected from the artificial sampler was 0.40, slightly less than the average 0.56 for the Surber sampler. Published coefficients of variation for artificial substrates range from 0.109 to 0.849, which are similar to values reported from work with the Surber sampler. We had several practical difficulties with the artificial substrates. Samplers were lost, became clogged or buried, supported vertebrate predators and were costly. The samplers also collected some organisms in greater proportion than their occurrences in the natural substrate. In sampling small streams these disadvantages (compared to a Surber sampler) outweigh the slight reduction in sampling variability.