Here at Princeton Hydro, our team members are committed to learning new technologies, staying ahead of regulatory changes, expanding their knowledge, and earning professional certifications in order to better service our clients and the public.
Environmental Scientist Duncan Simpson, PWS, earned his Maryland Biological Stream Survey (MBSS) Fish Crew Leader certification. He is the only person to have earned this prestigious certification in 2020. He also successfully completed the MBSS Physical Habitat Assessment.
The MBSS program was started by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in 1993 in order to improve consistency among all individuals in Maryland using MBSS habitat assessment protocols so that habitat data are comparable. The MBSS was Maryland’s first probability-based or random design stream sampling program intended to provide unbiased estimates of stream conditions with known precision at various spatial scales ranging from large 6-digit river basins and medium-sized 8-digit watersheds to the entire state. This program is a cost-effective and efficient way to characterize Maryland’s 10,000+ miles of freshwater streams.
Duncan attended the Fish Crew Leader and Physical Habitat Assessment certification trainings, which were held virtually due to COVID-19. Following the trainings, he successfully passed the required written exams and field audits.
For the habitat assessment field audit, Duncan had to complete an assessment and arrive at the same conclusions as the MBSS experts. He assessed a stream reach for several instream and upland habitat characteristics including audits of bank erosion; bank formation and substrate; stream character; woody debris; max depth; channelization; and riparian vegetation.
The fish crew leader audit required Duncan to lead a team of individuals on a mock fish sampling event during which he was responsible for overseeing that the crew using the MBSS Round Four Sampling Protocol. In order to pass the audit, Duncan had to illustrate his intimate familiarity with every aspect of MBSS sampling and have at least three years of experience with MBSS sampling or with another comparable ecological field sampling effort.
“I first learned about the MBSS certification in 2010 and have been hoping to take the training and earn the certification ever since. I truly admire and respect the scientific rigor of MBSS, so to be recognized with this prestigious certification is a great milestone in my career and something that I’m very proud of.” – Duncan Simpson
For Staff Scientists Ivy and Jesse, the MBSS Benthic Macroinvertebrate field audit required that they collect kicks/jabs in twenty locations within the stream reach, located within the Elbow Branch in Susquehanna State Park. These twenty kicks/jabs were divided up into different microhabitat types depending on which were most dominant in the reach. The MBSS auditor simultaneously collected the same number of each microhabitat type.
The twenty kicks performed by each sampler were compiled into one sample that was preserved and sent to the Maryland State Labs for analysis. In order to pass the audit, Jesse and Ivy’s Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity (a metric based on the diversity and tolerance of the organisms collected) had to be within one unit of the auditor’s. Additionally, their successful audit hinged on having the correct supplies and on decontaminating their gear to prevent the spread of invasive species.
“The training experience with MBSS allowed me to gain a deep appreciation of the role that benthic macroinvertebrates hold in our freshwater ecosystems. I’ve been able to develop a unique skillset to help my, and ultimately others’, understanding of benthic macroinvertebrate species richness and what they indicate in terms of water quality that contribute to the health of these special ecosystems.” -Ivy Babson
“I’ve had an interest in aquatic macroinvertebrates since college, and this training experience with the MBSS helped me further appreciate the process that goes into studying them and the ecosystems in which they live. This certification will allow me further opportunities to work with these organisms in the future, and I look forward to more work in this area.” – Jesse Smith
In total, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers five certification opportunities in MBSS protocols. The certifications include benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, benthic macroinvertebrate laboratory processing and subsampling, fish crew leader, fish taxonomy, and physical habitat assessment. In some cases, prerequisite certifications and trainings are required in order to apply and complete the DNR’s MBSS certifications. For example, in order to achieve the benthic macroinvertebrate taxonomy program, a previous Society for Freshwater Science certification is required.
Attendance at MBSS spring and summer trainings is a partial requirement for most of the certifications. Participants must pass written tests and field audits, as well as additional tests and quality assurance procedures. Passing a laboratory audit and a written test is also required for the benthic macroinvertebrate laboratory processing and subsampling certification.
Congratulations to Duncan, Ivy, & Jesse!
Click here for more information about the MBSS certification program. If you’re interested in learning more about the wide variety of engineering and environmental services Princeton Hydro offers, go here: princetonhydro.com/services.