Biologists Use Bug Index to Evaluate Ohio River Water Quality

Oct 26, 2012

Biologist Ryan Argo disturbing the river sediment in search of macroinvertebrate samples.
Credit Erica Peterson, WFPL News

For years, biologists have analyzed fish tissue to gauge the water quality in rivers. But in the Ohio River, researchers are now looking at bugs, too. Ryan Argo and Jamie Wisenall are standing in the shallows of the Ohio River, just outside Owensboro. With long nets, they reach towards the river bottom, scooping up the sediment.

Rob Tewes.

One of the macroinvertebrates found in the river sediment.

Argo and Jamie Wisenall pull on the cord attached to a block that's been in the river for six weeks, gathering colonies of macroinvertebrates.

The samples are run through a sieve, then stored in alcohol until they're analyzed by a lab.