Maryland Biological Stream Survey

Training & Certification

A group of biologist wading through a stream electrofishing.Maryland Biological Stream Survey (MBSS) stream sampling protocols are currently required by some counties and state agencies. To accommodate these requirements, Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers four certifications and two training opportunities in MBSS protocols. The certifications include benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, benthic macroinvertebrate laboratory processing and subsampling, fish crew leader, and fish taxonomy. To be certified by the Department of Natural Resources for benthic macroinvertebrate taxonomy, a Society for Freshwater Science (formerly known as the North American Benthological Society) certification (not offered by the department) is required.

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 four 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.

Notes:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The Department of Natural Resources 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, the department will accept the check and the certification process will continue. If the written test is not passed, no payment is required.
  4. 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 Department of Natural Resources 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 department will be unable to document the quality of the data compared to data collected by a Department of Natural Resources crew. The department will allow no more than one “resample” of a site audit if the person does not pass the first field audit.
  5. To maintain an active certification in benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, persons certified in 2015 and 2016 must attend spring training in 2017.
  6. To maintain an active certification as fish field crew leader, persons certified in 2015 and 2016 must attend summer training in 2017.
After successful completion of a particular certification process, the certified person's name will be listed as being certified for that aspect of MBSS sampling protocols in a registry on the MBSS website and provided upon request.

2017 MBSS Certification Documents


2017 MBSS Training

While attending MBSS training is a requirement for certain certifications as described above, the training sessions also cover additional aspects of MBSS field sampling beyond those included in each certification. Examples included 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, the department may consider adding certification for these other aspects of MBSS sampling at a later date.

Summer training (Registration Fee - $200) will be held on May 30 – June 2 at Hood College in Frederick (Hodson Science and Technonogy Center). Click HERE for a campus map. This training will consist of Power Point presentations on MBSS summer sampling protocols (e.g., physical habitat, fish). There will also be field demonstrations of these protocols. Assistance from regional experts with taxonomic identification of fish, reptiles, amphibians, crayfish, and mussels will be provided. Taking taxonomy tests will be optional. Individuals who register only for this training are not eligible for certification in fish crew leadership or fish taxonomy (regardless of the grade earned on the fish taxonomy test). Additionally, taking a taxonomy test does not certify any individual in sampling or identification of the taxa. Note: If you have registered for the fish taxonomy or fish crew leader certification, YOU MUST register for summer training.

Click HERE for a draft Summer Training Agenda.

Because spring and summer trainings include hands-on, in-the-stream activities, please bring waders and clothing appropriate for the weather.

2017 SPRING AND SUMMER TRAINING REGISTRATIONS ARE CLOSED

2017 Spring Training Presentations


Training registration and certification fees are different for those associated with for-profit and non-profit organizations. 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 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.

If you have questions about MBSS training and certification or MBSS protocols, please contact either Jay Kilian (410) 260-8617; jay.kilian@maryland.gov or Dan Boward (410) 260-8605; dan.boward@maryland.gov.