The Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network

The Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network is a multi-sector biomonitoring collaboration, in which bottom-dwelling aquatic invertebrates are used to monitor the ecological condition of lakes, streams, and wetlands.  The Network is led by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, but certified participants represent all sectors. The network features standard sampling protocols, training, and a database. Information most queried by OBBN members is listed below.


The OBBN Database is a publicly accessible database.

Data is loaded to the database in two-steps. Step one, sampling location named (Site Creator). Step two, sampling event data for site locations is populated (Data Template). Site Creator creates the location of the site, and includes few fields: site code, stream name, candidate reference site, elevation, site photo and site coordinates. In comparison, the Data Template includes the bulk of the data: sampling event, collection area, pebble count, and taxonomy counts.

There are numerous benefits of participating in the OBBN Database. Your organization will be able to compare data from different times or locations, access reference site data needed to derive assessment criteria for various indices, access technical support and analytical tools, and have input on scientific questions addressed by the OBBN. The Site Locations Map can be found here.

If you are interested in contributing data to the OBBN Database please contact Ashley York at to begin the process.


Two types of training courses are organized periodically by certified Network trainers.

OBBN Basic Training (3-day course): This course covers biomonitoring theory, sampling methods, laboratory methods, and bioassessment calculations. The course also includes a field practicum (in which students apply lake- and stream-sampling methods), a full-day introduction to benthic invertebrate taxonomy, and a demonstration of various approaches to bioassessment calculations. Tests covering sampling methods and invertebrate identification are offered at the end of the course. Students passing the tests receive a certificate that signifies their proficiency with standardized Ontario methods and their status as Network members. Basic training courses are typically offered in April and May.

Family ID (3-day course): This course has two objectives: (1) To fast-track the process of learning family-level benthic-invertebrate identification; and (2) To prepare registrants for the Family-level Taxonomic Certification Exam that is administered by  the Society for Freshwater Science’s (SFS’s) Taxonomic Certification Program. To pass the SFS certification, taxonomists must have mastered the terminology used in family-level keys; they must have learned the characters that distinguish families in each major group of invertebrates; and they must have studied a wide variety of specimens, so they understand the morphological variability that exists within families. This course provides students an opportunity to acquire such skills and experience. Emphasis is on taxa from eastern North America (especially Ontario). The format of the course includes a combination of lectures, demonstrations, instructor-guided practice in the lab, and mock tests.

Contact Chris Jones for more information and to get on the mailing list so you are notified of upcoming courses. Contact Sarah Sinclair book your time to challenge the SFS exam (the Dorset Environmental Science Centre is registered as an official test centre).

Upcoming Training Courses

PDF iconIdentification of Benthic Macro-invertebrate Familes at Lakehead University(Orillia)-February 2019

PDF iconOBBN Basic Training - Dorset Spring 2019

PDF icon OBBN Basic Training - Dorset Fall 2019

Field Sheets




OBBN Coordinators
Chris Jones - Benthic Monitoring Scientist

Sarah Sinclair - Biomonitoring Technician