The Waterbug Census teaches techniques that can be used in the field, without the need for lab equipment or microscopes.
The Agreed Level Taxonomy
Waterbug Census volunteers learn how to identify macroinvertebrates by using Agreed Level Taxonomy (ALT). This method has been developed by the Waterbug Company to identify invertebrates to assess waterway health without microscopes.
Animals are identified based on their features and the way they move while alive, rather than being preserved. This also means they can be returned to the waterway after the data has been collected. ALT identifications result in data sets of mixed taxonomic levels, some at genus or species, and others at higher levels. The ‘agreed levels’ referred to in the name describe the fact that the taxonomic levels to which invertebrates are identified are agreed upon by the people using the method.
Benefits of the ALT method
- Identification can be completed in the field without microscopes
- Macroinvertebrates are kept alive
- Data can be equivalent to SIGNAL 2
Watch our Youtube video to see what is involved in this citizen science program.
A short video with images and footage detailing how volunteers monitor and identify the macroinvertebrates (or waterbugs) living in Melbourne’s waterways to learn more about water quality.
For more information
- The Waterbug Company - further information regarding the ALT methodology by Australian freshwater ecologists.
- ALT methods
- ALT accreditation
- ALT keys
- ALT higher level key
- ALT bug sheet
- ALT habitat sheet
- Bug identification guide — Murray–Darling Freshwater Research Centre - detailed interactive guide to identifying aquatic invertebrates.