Maryland Biological Stream Survey

A group of people out in the woods standing next to a stream with lots of rocks.MBSS biologists Jason Cessna, Jono Watson and Matt Ashton demonstrate fish sampling methods.

Training & Certification

2019 MBSS Training

The 2019 MBSS summer training was held at Howard Community College on May 28 to 31. About 98 folks attended, with several applying for Fish Taxonomy and Fish Crew Leader Certifications. About 45 registrants participated in the very first MBSS Physical Habitat Assessment Certification. These folks were required to attend a field demo, pass a written test and complete an independent (off-site) audit.

Check this page in late 2019 for updates on 2020 MBSS trainings. And keep in mind that the training and certification activities will be more effective if all training registrants have an advanced understanding of protocols before the training actually occurs. We highly recommend that you review the MBSS Sampling Manual prior to training.

A man holding an award and standing next to a person in a large red dragon costume.Sean Sipple (Coastal Resources) received his third MBSS Taxonomy Champion Award from the Howard Community College mascot, Duncan the Dragon.

If you have questions about MBSS training and certification or MBSS protocols, please contact either Jay Kilian (410) 260-8617; or Dan Boward (410) 260-8605

2019 Spring Training Presentations

2019 Summer Training Presentations

MBSS Certifications

Maryland Biological Stream Survey in actionMaryland 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.

Attendance at MBSS spring and summer trainings is a partial requirement for three of the four certifications. Passing written tests and field audits 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.


  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 collected by the crew.
  3. The department 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 mutually-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.
  5. To maintain an active certification in benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, persons certified in 2017 and 2018 must attend spring training in 2019.
  6. To maintain an active certification as fish crew leader, persons certified in 2017 and 2018 must attend Day 1 (May 28) of summer training in 2019.

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.

2019 MBSS Certification Documents