Maryland Biological Stream Survey
Training and Certification
Maryland Biological Stream Survey (MBSS) stream sampling protocols are currently required by some counties and state agencies. To accommodate these requirements, Maryland DNR offers five certifications and two training opportunities in MBSS protocols. The certifications include benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, benthic macroinvertebrate laboratory processing and subsampling, fish sampling, fish crew leader, and fish taxonomy. To be certified by DNR for benthic macroinvertebrate taxonomy, a Society for Freshwater Science (formerly known as the North American Benthological Society) certification, not offered by DNR, is required (http://www.nabstcp.com/).
Trainings are usually offered in late February (spring sampling) for benthic macroinvertebrate sampling and late May (summer sampling) for fish sampling, fish crew leader and fish taxonomy certifications.
Attendance at these trainings is a partial requirement for the three certifications. Passing field audits and written tests will be required, as well as passing additional tests and quality assurance procedures. Passing a laboratory audit and a written test will be required for benthic macroinvertebrate laboratory processing and subsampling certification.
- To be considered consistent with MBSS protocols, benthic macroinvertebrate data must be collected by a person certified in benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, the sample must be processed by an individual who is certified in laboratory processing and subsampling, and a person who is a certified Society for Freshwater Science taxonomist must perform the benthic macroinvertebrate taxonomy.
- To be considered consistent with MBSS protocols, the fish data must be collected by a crew led by a certified crew leader. Additionally, a certified fish taxonomist must identify the fish species collected by the crew.
- To maintain an active certification in benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, persons certified in 2014 must attend spring training in 2015.
- To maintain an active certification in fish sampling and field crew leader, persons certified in 2014 must attend summer training in 2015.
After successful completion of a particular certification process, the certified person's name will be listed as being certified for that aspect of MBSS data collection in a registry on the MBSS website and provided upon request. An overview of certification requirements can be found HERE, and a Frequently Asked Questions for benthic macroinvertebrate and fish certifications can be found HERE and HERE, respectively.
2015 MBSS training
While attending MBSS training is a requirement for certain certifications as described above, the training sessions will also cover additional aspects of MBSS field sampling beyond those included in each certification. Examples include crayfish, freshwater mussel, reptile, amphibian, and invasive plant taxonomy, physical habitat assessment, and frog calls. Although proficiency tests may be administered for these taxonomic groups, test performance in no way constitutes certification in survey methods at this time. However, DNR may consider adding certification for these other aspects of MBSS sampling at a later date.
Spring Training will be held at the Howard County Conservancy's Gudelsky Center in Woodstock on February 25th. Please click here for directions and information. Summer Training will be held at Hood College in Frederick on May 18-21. Because these trainings include hands-on, in-the-stream activities, please bring waders and clothing appropriate for the weather. The agenda for the spring can be found HERE and the summer agenda can be found HERE.
If you or your staff are part of a for-profit organization and would like to register for any MBSS certifications or trainings, please click HERE for a registration form. A registration form for government agency, non-profit, and academic personnel can be found HERE. Fill out the form and send it with the appropriate fee as instructed. SPECIAL NOTE: the number of interested participants may exceed the capacity for certification or training. With that in mind, we will accept registrations on a first come, first served basis.
For certain MBSS certifications, the scheduling of field and laboratory quality control audits prior to conducting actual sampling is required. Choice of days for the field audits will be given in the order of receipt of registration materials. The deadline to register for the February 25 training is COB February 12th (postmarked). The deadline to register for the May 18-21 training is May 1 (postmarked).
Certification field audits must be conducted during the appropriate index period. Fish crew leader and fish taxonomy field audits must be completed June - September. Scheduling of field audits must be determined by the end of July.
The training and certification activities will be more effective if all crew members have an advanced understanding of protocols before the training actually occurs. We highly recommend that you review the MBSS Sampling Manual with your crew prior to training. A Benthic Macroinvertebrate Sampling Field Audit Checklist is HERE.
If you have any questions about registration, please feel free to contact Joanne Alewine (410) 260-8613; email@example.com. Receipts will be available at the training site.
If you have questions about MBSS training and certification or MBSS protocols, please contact either Jay Kilian (410-260-8617; firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dan Boward (410-260-8605; email@example.com).
- Please make checks payable to Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
- DNR will not accept checks for certification fees from individuals who register for benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, fish crew leader, or fish taxonomy certification until after the written tests administered at training have been passed. If the written test is passed, DNR will accept the check and the certification process will continue. If the written test is not passed, no payment is required.
- The FIRST actual site where data will be reported can potentially be used as an audit site by someone seeking benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, fish crew leader, or fish taxonomy certification, as long as the location and scheduling for the site is also agreeable to the DNR Quality Control Officer conducting the audit, and the audit takes place during the index period. Audits may be conducted either at a "regular" site (i.e., a site on the crew's sampling schedule) or at a muturally-agreed upon site convenient for both parties. It is important to note that, if the audit is not passed, the person will not be certified and DNR will be unable to document the quality of the data compared to data collected by a DNR crew. DNR will allow no more than one “resample” of a site audit if the person does not pass the first field audit.
Detailed Physical and Nutrient Monitoring 2015 (Coming Soon!)
DNR provides training (not certification) on geomorphology, nutrient, and stream discharge sampling protocols. These protocols are being used to document changes to streams associated with restoration projects funded by the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and could also be used with other restoration projects. This training provides an opportunity to use comparable protocols to document improvements in nutrient, sediment, and geomorphic properties of streams in Maryland. This training was held at ThorpeWood in Thurmont, MD on May 20th, 2014. There is no charge for this training but space is limited and registration will be held on a first come/first served basis. Detailed physical and nutrient monitoring protocols are available here. Questions regarding this special training session should be referred to Luke Roberson at (410) 260-8618; firstname.lastname@example.org.
PowerPoint Presentations from 2014 MBSS Training
Links refer to a .pdf version of the powerpoint file.
- MBSS Program Overview
- Landowner Permission Protocols (also shown during summer training)
- Benthic Sampling Protocols
- Habitat Assessment Protocols
- Decontaminating Equipment
- Facies Mapping
- Water Quality Measurements
- Vernal Pool Descriptions
Summer Training (subject to change)
- MBSS Home
- Training Information
- Round Four of Statewide Sampling
- List of MBSS Certifications
- MBSS Round 3 Report
- What is the MBSS?
- Meet the Biologists
- When does MBSS Sample Streams?
- Products and Applications
- Online Publications
- Statewide Fish Distribution
- MBSS Data Request
- The 2011 MD Stream Symposium and Mid-Atlantic Volunteer Monitoring Conference