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Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Studies

caddisfly Joe Koebel is the lead Senior Environmental Scientist on the Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Studies that are conducted as part of the Kissimmee River Restoration Project. The SFWMD has set up a series of Performance Expectations that guide the scientists in their research objectives. So far, the Kissimmee River Restoration is meeting the SFWMD’s research expectations. Four of the 25 restoration expectations are based on the recovery of macroinvertebrate communities in the restored Kissimmee River. The Expectations that Joe’s research supports are:

  • Expectation 15 – River Channel Macroinvertebrate Drift Composition 
  • Expectation 16 – Increased Relative Density, Biomass, and Production of Passive Filtering-Collectors on River Channel Snags
  • Expectation 17 – Aquatic Invertebrate Community Structure in Broadleaf Marshes
  • Expectation 18 – Aquatic Invertebrate Community Structure in River Channel Benthic Habitats

To quantify these expectations the Kissimmee River research and monitoring studies that Joe leads are:

  • Responses of Benthic and Snag-dwelling Macroinvertebrates
  • Macroinvertebrate Drift
  • Macroinvertebrate Exchange Between the River and Floodplain
  • Floodplain Macroinvertebrate Community Composition

Responses of Snag Dwelling Macroinvertebrates – Restoration Results are Exciting!

Natural free-flowing river systems of the southeast US generally support a guild of aquatic invertebrate known as “passive filtering-collectors”. These invertebrates have structural or behavioral adaptations that allow them to trap fine organic matter (i.e., food) as it travels downstream in the current. This guild usually accounts for the greatest proportion of mean annual invertebrate density and biomass in these natural systems. Following channelization of the Kissimmee River and elimination of flow, this important invertebrate guild was almost eliminated from the river.

Under channelized conditions, mean annual density and biomass of passive filtering-collectors was approximately 41 individuals/m2 and 5 mg/m2, respectively. Following river restoration and reestablishment of flow, passive filtering-collectors rapidly colonized newly available habitat on large woody debris. Recent studies indicate that mean annual density and biomass of passive filtering-collectors in the restored system have increased to over 8000 individuals/m2 and almost 800 mg/m2 . This increase is very strong evidence that restoration of flow and habitat structure has been the impetus for restoration of this important invertebrate indicator guild in the Kissimmee River.   Results are illustrated in the graph below: 


Joe thinks, “One of the most rewarding aspects about working with the SFWMD and Kissimmee River Restoration Project is the opportunity to see an ecosystem that had been destroyed as a result of flood control efforts, return to its former glory! Witnessing the return and restoration of native fish and wildlife communities while continuing to maintain flood control has been a remarkable experience. The opportunity to collaborate with outstanding scientists, engineers, geographers and technicians from the SFWMD and other agencies has been a great learning opportunity and very rewarding.”

 Last Modified 4/20/17