Maryland Biological Stream Survey

Maryland Biological Stream Survey Training & Certification​



MBSS summer training will be held at Bowie State University from May 28 to May 31. This will be an in-person training where we will cover Maryland Biological Stream Survey sampling protocols for physical habitat assessment and electrofishing surveys, as well as provide training and testing on the taxonomy of Maryland’s fishes, herpetofauna, crayfishes, and freshwater mussels. Those who attend training and pass certain tests may be eligible for Fish Crew Leader, Fish Taxonomy, Physical Habitat, and Freshwater Mussel Taxonomy certifications.

A draft agenda (subject to change) can be found HERE.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN NOW! Please register online using this Google form, and pay via the DNR Outdoor Store. It is possible to register for one, two, or fours days, depending on your interests and needs. The deadline for registration is May 1st.

If you have questions about MBSS training and certification or MBSS protocols, please contact either William Harbold (410) 271-7216 or Jay Kilian (443) 504-4565

MBSS Certifica​tions

**Certification Cost Changes in 2024**

We have made changes to the costs and terms of several of our MBSS certifications. Beginning this year, we will no longer differentiate between non-profit and for-profit organizations – prices for all entities will be the same. Additionally, the Fish Taxonomy certification will now be valid for three years. These and other changes to our certifications are described in the FAQ and the MBSS Certification Requirements Quick Reference documents below. We apologize for the short notice and any inconvenience these price changes may cause.

People surveying a stream 

Maryland Biological Stream Survey (MBSS) stream sampling protocols and taxonomic standards are currently required by some counties and state agencies. To accommodate these requirements, Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers six certifications and two training opportunities in MBSS protocols. The certifications include benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, benthic macroinvertebrate laboratory processing and subsampling, fish crew leader, fish taxonomy, mussel taxonomy, and physical habitat assessment. To be certified by the Department of Natural Resources for benthic macroinvertebrate taxonomy, a Society for Freshwater Science certification in EPT East and North American Chironomidae (not offered by the department) are required.

 Attendance at MBSS spring and summer trainings is a partial requirement for five of the six​ 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. Providing documentation of adequate prior experience conducting surveys using regionally standard mussel survey protocols will be required to complete the mussel taxonomist certification after testing.​​


  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 taxonomist in both EPT East and North American Chironomidae by the Society for Freshwater Science 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 payments of certification fees from individuals who register for benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, fish crew leader, fish taxonomy, or mussel 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. An audit site used for benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, fish crew leader, or fish taxonomy certification can be an actual biomonitoring site (i.e., a site on the applicant’s sampling schedule), if 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. As an alternative, audits may also be conducted 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 the 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 must attend spring training each year for the three-year certification term.
  6. To maintain an active certification as fish crew leader, persons must attend the fish sampling protocol portion (usually Day 1) of summer training each year for the three-year certification term.
  7. To maintain an active certification as a mussel taxonomist, persons must provide documentation that they are maintaining a minimum level of experience through training or fieldwork on an annual basis.
  8. 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 or taxonomy​​ in a registry (see below) on the MBSS website and provided upon request.

MBSS Registry of Certifications

MBSS Certification Documents