WA Lakes Biotic Survey

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Entomology' started by Taxon, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. As a part of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Lakes Assessment, the Washington (State) Department of Ecology collected biological, chemical, and physical data at (30) randomly selected WA lakes during the summer of 2007. Among the physical data, (18,510) macroinvertebrate specimens were collected. Absent macroinvertebrate identification, which was still being performed by EPA at the time, in April of 2010, the WA Department of Ecology issued a report titled, An Assessment of Washington Lakes: National Lake Assessment Results.

    Having extreme interest in aquatic macroinvertebrate sampling of any kind, I contacted the WA Department of Ecology some (4+) months ago with the hope of getting access to statistical detail from the WA Lakes macroinvertebrate sampling. The WA Department of Ecology had not yet received those results back from EPA, so I was referred to the responsible EPA scientist, who has since graciously provided me with the macroinvertebrate sampling and identification results.

    A few years ago, I developed a North American Aquatic Insects database, which was most recently used to help summarize the (1,511) mostly genus level records I received from EPA into (77) family (or higher) level records. Each summary record lists the taxonomic name of the macroinvertebrate order, followed by a parenthesized common name for the macroinvertebrate family, and the total number of specimens collected:

    Diptera (Midge) 8047
    Amphipoda (Scud) 3652
    Haplotaxida (Freshwater Earthworm) 1399
    Ephemeroptera (Small Squaregill Mayfly) 712
    Isopoda (Aquatic Sowbug) 700
    Veneroida (Peaclam) 529
    Tricladida (Planarian) 508
    Trombidiformes (Freshwater Mite) 489
    Diptera (Biting Midge) 357
    Basommatophora (Wheel Snail) 347
    Odonata (Pond Damselfly) 341
    Trichoptera (Longhorned Case Maker Caddisfly) 256
    Ephemeroptera (Small Minnow Mayfly) 148
    Basommatophora (Tadpole Snail) 116
    Haplotaxida (Tubifex Worm) 115
    Heterostropha (Valve Snail) 68
    Coleoptera (Riffle Beetle) 62
    Trichoptera (Purse Case Maker Caddisfly) 54
    Haplotaxida (Freshwater Worm) 48
    Haplotaxida (Freshwater Potworm) 39
    Veneroida (Concentrical Clam) 35
    Neotaenioglossa (Freshwater Snail) 34
    Hoplonemertea (Ribbon Worm) 33
    Arachnids (Spiders) 32
    Rhynchobdellida (Freshwater Leech) 31
    Trichoptera (Trumpet Net & Tube Maker Caddisfly) 28
    Odonata (Skimmer or Emerald Dragonfly) 26
    Heteroptera (Water Boatman) 26
    Trichoptera (Long-Horn Caddisfly) 24
    Basommatophora (Pond Snail) 22
    Sarcoptiformes (Freshwater Mite) 21
    Trichoptera (Lepidostomatid Case Maker Caddisfly) 20
    Anthoathecatae (Hydra) 17
    Megaloptera (Alderfly) 15
    Basommatophora (Freshwater Limpet) 14
    Odonata (Emerald Dragonfly) 11
    Diptera (Phantom Midge) 10
    Ephemeroptera (Pronggilled Mayfly) 10
    Trichoptera (Giant Case Maker Caddisfly) 9
    Trichoptera (Northern Case Maker Caddisfly) 8
    Arhynchobdellida (Worm Leech) 7
    Coleoptera (Predaceous Diving Beetle) 7
    Odonata (Skimmer Dragonfly) 6
    Heteroptera (Backswimmer) 6
    Diptera (Shore Fly) 6
    Odonata (Darner Dragonfly) 5
    Canalipalpata (Freshwater Fanworm) 5
    Trichoptera (Northern Casemaker Caddisfly) 4
    Plecoptera (Slender Winter Stonefly) 4
    Architaenioglossa (Valve Snail) 4
    Plecoptera (Green Stonefly) 4
    Decapoda (Freshwater Crab) 4
    Lepidoptera (Grass Moth) 4
    Ephemeroptera (Flatheaded Mayfly) 3
    Ephemeroptera (Spiny Crawler Mayfly) 3
    Diptera (Dance Fly) 3
    Coleoptera (Crawling Water Beetle) 3
    Diptera (True Fly) 2
    Glossiphoniidae (Turtle/Snail Leech) 2
    Basommatophora (Freshwater Snail) 2
    Branchiobdellida (Freshwater Worm) 1
    Unionoida (Freshwater Clam) 1
    Coleoptera (Water Scavenger Beetle) 1
    Diptera (Crane Fly) 1
    Ephemeroptera (Common Burrower Mayfly) 1
    Ephemeroptera (Pronggill Mayfly) 1
    Gastropoda (Freshwater Snail) 1
    Trichoptera (Caddisfly) 1
    Rhynchobdellida (Turtle/Snail Leech) 1
    Plecoptera (Spring Stonefly) 1
    Lepidoptera (Aquatic Moth) 1
    Odonata (Dragonfly) 1
    Ephemeroptera (Primitive Minnow Mayfly) 1

    Okay, so what relevance might this have for a flyfisher targeting trout in WA lakes?

    Well, since midges (Chironomids) were the most commonly collected, constituting 45.5% (8046 out of 18510) macroinvertebrates, it’s obvious why flyfishing with a Chironomid imitation might be as productive as it seems to be here in WA.

    However, I leave further observations for you to make, hoping this information may prove at least mildly interesting, and might even stimulate discussion from which we can all learn.
  2. good info , thanks Taxon.
  3. Veeery interesting. Thanks, Roger!
  4. Taxon,
    Thank you for posting this information and your database is great, although I just scratched the surface.

    Regarding this data - Are the identification results and numbers collected available for each specific lake?

  5. Trout Master and Sourdoughs-

    Your are certainly welcome; my pleasure.

    Jeff Dodd-

    Yes, the data I was provided by EPA was on a specific lake basis, but I have not yet had time to develop a query for individual lakes. Remember, there were only (30) lakes surveyed in WA, and most of them were not popular flyfishing lakes, as the focus of the survey was water quality, not fishing. Anyway, the 1st link in my initial post, displays a state map showing those (30) lakes, and also lists their names.
  6. Thank you Taxon.
  7. Thanks Taxon,

    That is some pretty impressive numbers for the chrionomid fans, I'm going to have to get busy restocking my boxs now.

  8. Not me, I'm pulling out my fresh water crab patterns. Time for me to go bonefishing on the flats of Lone.

  9. Oh and Taxon, you are truly awesome. This is incredible information. As a chrony guy not a surprise but still some good info.. Thank You.

  10. Roger, thanks a bunch!
    That's really cool to see our local (somewhat) dispersion of aquatic insect (and other) life.
  11. Big surprise for me was the "Odonata (Dragonfly) 1" Does this indicate only 1 specimen was found in 30 lakes sampled? Or is it 1 family of them found. I'd be really interested in the density estimates of each. And more important to me, the relationship of those. Or which one's the trout were keying on.

    Great info, sounds like I need to get a stomach pump and bone up on my entomology.
  12. Great info, not too suprising about the amount of chironomids......I'm still not going to the dark side....at least not to often. :)
  13. Mike Monsos, Irafly, scottflycst, Islander-

    You are welcome; thanks for responding.

    jeff bandy-

    Good question. That also caused me to double-take. My presumption would be that, one dragonfly, by the time it was time to be identified, perhaps even some years after it had originally been collected, was in such poor shape, that it could not even be identified to family, so it was simply counted as a dragonfly (order Odonata, suborder Anisoptera). So, that's my story, and I intend to stick to it. [​IMG]
  14. Your post brought back a fun memory for me. When I was in grad school for fisheries I used to tease a friend of mine who got suckered into doing a master's thesis on inverts. I razzed him about there being only two kinds of inverts: those that make good fish food and those that don't. He spent hours and hours over samples peering through a magnifying light, picking out the tiny critters and then many more hours counting tiny body parts and segments trying to identifying them. It took him an extra year to finish his degree because of the detail in the research. So your post comes along and verifies my position. I had to laugh thinking about Tim, hunched over those little dishes while the rest of us went shocking or netting fish, doing the fun biology work. Thanks for taking the time and the trouble to type all of that and to present it in a meaningful manner.
  15. Hi Karl,

    Thanks for taking the time to share the story about your friend Tim with me. However, probably unlike Tim, I have the resources of a PC to assist me. So it's not really necessary to key in all that stuff. Rather than having to key in several hours worth of detail, it only takes me about an hour to key in a program, and then, only another six hours to debug it. Perhaps you can appreciate what an improvement this is. [​IMG]
  16. Roger,
    The different colored dragonflies we see each summer, are they of the same family/kind or are each color of a different family/kind?
  17. If you skim the list there are several Odonates listed (including damsel nymphs). However, if you add them up they are still a tiny fraction of the Diptera (chironomid) numbers. I think Irafly made the observation last spring that trout are either "looking for skittles or hoagies" referring to chironomids and leeches/dragon nymphs, respectively. And where are leeches on that list? They are invertebrates, no?
  18. Hi Scott,

    As a gross generalization, the brighter colored ones are males, and the duller colored ones are females. Those likely to be found in WA are listed on my PNW Dragonflies page.

    Also, Slater Museum, which is associated with the University Of Puget Sound, maintains a Western Odonata Scans In Life web page, where you can view wonderful photos of Western dragonflies.

    Hope this answer your question.
  19. troutpocket-

    Yes, they are invertebrates, and they are on the list as follows:

    Rhynchobdellida (Freshwater Leech) 31
    Arhynchobdellida (Worm Leech) 7
    Glossiphoniidae (Turtle/Snail Leech) 2
    Rhynchobdellida (Turtle/Snail Leech) 1
  20. Holy Moses Roger! I had no idea there were so many dragonflies. Thanks for the links.
    This summer a few dragons are going to be in danger of Scott taking a closer look.

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