Biological Indicators
of Watershed Health

Stoneflies (Plecoptera)
[Photograph: EPA]

The objective of the Clean Water Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters. Fish, insects, algae, plants and other aquatic organisms can act as biological indicators, providing accurate information about the health of waterbodies such as lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands, estuaries, and coral reefs.

The presence, condition, and numbers of the types of these plants and animals reflect current conditions, as well as changes over time and cumulative effects. Through direct observation and monitoring, scientists can identify problems and stressors in aquatic ecosystems.

Learn more about biological indicators of watershed health.

[Source: U.S. EPA]

Aquatic Organisms

A wide variety of organisms utilize in aquatic environments. They range in size from microscopic protozoa to the enormous sperm whale. Many aquatic organisms spend their entire lives in water, either in freshwater streams, rivers, and lakes, or in marine or estuarine habitats. Other aquatic organisms only spend part of their lives in water.

Fowler's Toad - David F. Mitchell Amphibians
Learn about frogs, toads, salamanders, and caecilians. Read about amphibian malformations, population declines and discover ways you can help.
Echinogammarus - G. Carter Aquatic Invertebrates
Find information about mollusks, insects, crustaceans, echinoderms, worms, ctenophores, sponges and other aquatic invertebrates.
Aquaculture facility- NOAA Culture
Learn about organisms that are cultured for food, recreation (sport and ornamentals), habitat enhancement, and conservation.
Humpback Chub - George Andrejko - Arizona Fish and Game Imperiled Species
Find out which aquatic species are threatened or endangered, what is being done to protect species at risk, and how you can help.
Catfish - David Nance, US Agricultural Research Service Freshwater Fishes
Freshwater fishes are an important resource throughout the world. Search publications, maps, and organizations for information on the fishes most interesting to you.
Myxobolus cerebralis myxospores Invasive and Non-Native Species
When plants and animals are moved outside of their native ranges, they can cause problems in their new ecosystems.
California Sea Lion - John J. Mosesso Mammals (Accessible soon)
Not all mammals live on land. Learn about whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, and other aquatic mammals.

Marine Fishes
Explore the diverse nature of the world's marine fishes by exploring a variety of resources about the world's largest food source.

Atlantic Croaker Species Profiles: Life Histories and Environmental Requirements of Coastal Fishes and Invertebrates
Find historical accounts of aquatic species, organized by geographic region.



Fishbase is a searchable global database of fish species information.

FishBase on the web contains practically all fish species known to science. Search over 28,000 fish species by common name, scientific name, ecosystem, or country. Or, use the search feature to find tools, maps, or references.

Learn more about FishBase.

Visit the SHEDD!

giant pacific octopus
Giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)
[Copyright: Shedd Aquarium]

"Animals connect you to the living world, inspiring you to make a difference." That's the mission of the Shedd aquarium, located in Chicago. As an institution dedicated to teaching, conservation, and global awareness, the Shedd provides a range of virtual learning resources on their website. So, even if you can't make it to Chicago, you can still learn about the 25,951 animals that live there, tour their exhibits, or learn something new about conservation. They also house a unique group of beluga whales, including a recent addition; a calf that was born in August 2007.

The NBII Program is administered by the Biological Informatics Program of the U.S. Geological Survey
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