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Bioassessment Training, Evaluation, and Quality Assurance

UPDATE REGARDING HABITAT ASSESSMENT PROFICIENCY TESTING FOR 2020

Due to COVID-19, DEP was unable to complete the establishment of new Habitat Assessment Proficiency Testing sites in 2020. In lieu of testing opportunities, DEP will extend the current status of samplers through 2021.

If you have never tested as part of the Habitat Assessment proficiency process, please contact Joy.Jackson@floridadep.gov for instructions on testing at previously-established sites in your region.

Any additional updates about HA proficiency testing will be sent out via the Quality of Science eNewsletter. Subscribe to the Quality of Science eNewsletter.


DEP Stream Biological Assessment Methods

DEP Lake Biological Assessment Methods


Stream Condition Index

This method is a composite macroinvertebrate index for use in flowing streams. 

Training Resources:

Summary of steps required to demonstrate SCI proficiency:

  • Attend a DEP biological assessment training class or event. Classes are typically held twice a year: once in North Florida and once in Central Florida. Training classes are announced through the Quality of Science eNewsletter.
  • Complete 9 SCI training events with one or more trainers who are in Pass status for the SCI. The Trainer will observe and critique the trainee's sampling technique. Document events on the Training Checklist and Event Log (FD 9000-35). 
  • An Evaluator will conduct an evaluation (mock audit) for the trainee (10th training event), to ensure the Trainee understands and is proficient in the items on the checklist. Complete the Evaluator section of the Training Checklist and Event Log.
  • The audit candidate must attain a score of 90% on the online test and successfully complete a field audit with a DEP auditor.

Proficiency Demonstration:

Anyone submitting data to DEP must attain a score of 90% on the online test, pass an initial demonstration of proficiency (SCI field audit), and a pass a refresher audit every 5 years thereafter. 

Contact Ashley O'Neal to schedule an initial or refresher SCI audit, including the online SCI test. 

Photograph of DEAR samplers conducting a Stream Condition Index on Davenport Creek

Overall habitat quality is determined by measuring eight attributes known to have potential effects on the stream biota. The method involves a mapping exercise and conducting a series of observations as specified in the Physical/Chemical characterization SOP (DEP SOP FT 3001). 

Training Resources:

Proficiency Demonstration:

Anyone submitting data to DEP must pass 3 out of 5 Habitat Assessment proficiency testing sites every two years, ideally under similar hydrologic conditions as those present during the establishment of testing sites. Hydrographs are provided for each site to aid in this determination. Analysts must be within +/- 10 points of the overall concensus score for each testing site.

New analysts may test at the sites established in 2018, if necessary, but should contact Joy Jackson if they plan to do so.

2018 Site Information:  Northern Sites, Central Sites, Southern Sites

Contact Joy Jackson to submit your Habitat Assessment field sheets and testing scores.

UPDATE REGARDING HABITAT ASSESSMENT PROFICIENCY TESTING FOR 2020

Due to COVID-19, DEP was unable to complete the establishment of new Habitat Assessment Proficiency Testing sites in 2020. In lieu of testing opportunities, DEP will extend the current status of samplers through 2021. Any additional updates about HA proficiency testing will be sent out via the Quality of Science eNewsletter. 


BioRecon

This method samples macroinvertebrates and is an initial screening tool for streams, intended to rapidly assess a site to prioritize it for more intensive sampling. 

Training Resources:

Summary of steps required to demonstrate BioRecon proficiency:

  • Attend a DEP biological assessment training class or event. Classes are typically held twice a year: once in North Florida adn once in Central Florida. Training classes are announced through the Quality of Science eNewsletter
  • Samplers should undergo field taxonomic training with experienced BioRecon samplers, as well as sampling training as described above for the SCI. 

Proficiency Demonstration:

  • The audit candidate must attain a score of 90% on the online test, pass an initial demonstration of proficiency (BioRecon field audit), and pass a refresher audit every 5 years thereafter. 

Contact Joy Jackson to schedule a BioRecon audit. 


Rapid Periphyton Survey

This method quantifies the extent and abundance of attached algae (periphyton) in a stream or river and evaluates the ecological information associated with the dominant algae. 

Training Resources:

Proficiency Demonstration:

DEP does not currently have any proficiency requirements for collection of the RPS; however, samplers are encouraged to take the online proficiency test linked below to demonstrate their knowledge of the method and provide assurance that data collection follows the SOPs.The RPS online test includes questions about the RPS method, and you may use the RPS SOP (FS 7230) to answer the questions.  You will have one hour to complete the 30-question test. A passing score is 90%, or 27/30 correctly answered questions.

RPS Online Test Link

Contact Sarah Noble if you have questions about the RPS online test. 


Linear Vegetation Survey

This method was designed to be a rapid screening tool for ecological condition, by determining how closely a site's flora resembles that of an undisturbed condition.

Training Resources:

Proficiency Demonstration:

DEP does not currently have any proficiency requirements for collection of the LVS; however, samplers are encouraged to take the online proficiency test linked below to demonstrate their knowledge of the method and provide assurance that data collection follows the SOPs. The LVS online test includes questions about the LVS method and plant identification. You may use the LVS SOP (FS 7320) to answer LVS method questions, but do not use any resources for the plant identification questions.  You will have one hour to complete the 40-question test.  A passing score is 90%, or 36/40 correctly answered questions.

LVS Online Test Link

Contact Sarah Noble if you have questions about the LVS online test. 


Lake Vegetation Index

A rapid field method developed to assess how similar a lake plant community is to a minimally disturbed community.

Training Resources:

LVI Calculator:

The LVI Calculator is available for download and use to calculate Lake Vegetation Index scores. Users should review “Instructions for use of the LVI Calculator” before using (Note: You must enable macros to use this calculator.). LVIs are calculated per DEP SOP LVI 2200 (effective 4/16/18).

Excel (DEP SOP LVI 2200)

Instructions for use of updated LVI Calculator

Proficiency Demonstration:

Anyone submitting LVI data to DEP must pass the LVI team proficiency testing offered every two years. In addition, at least one member of each LVI sampling team must pass the online test of common lake plants annually.

Contact Ashley O’Neal to take the online plant test.

For information about the most recent LVI Team Proficiency Exercise (2019), see Lake Vegetation Index 2019 Team Proficiency Report (PDF, 2019). 


Additional Resources

Stream Ecology, Module 1 (9 min, 2018)

Biological Assessment Training Requirements - DEP Bioassessment Training and Testing Guidelines: Rivers and Streams

Bioassessment Testing Registry - Searchable query for individuals who have completed a sampling audit to support either SCI or BioRecon sampling events.

DEP Field SOPs

Field Sampling Forms

Quality of Science eNewsletter – Register for this eNewsletter to receive announcements from DEP about training or testing opportunities.

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Last Modified:
November 25, 2020 - 1:14pm

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