Waterbug Surveys in Richmond

As part of our program to upskill Landcarers, we held a brilliant workshop with Waterbug expert, John Gooderham on the weekend. 

Image: John Gooderham in the river © Evie Drinnan 

John led a hands-on Waterbug Survey and River Health workshop in Richmond. It was a wonderful day for it - the sun was shining and there was just a slight, gentle breeze.

Images: John sharing waterbug wisdom © Evie Drinnan 

John gave us a run-down on what a healthy river looks like (high biodiversity of waterbug species, and including species that only occur in water with low pollution) and how surveying a section of river for waterbugs can allow us to infer where exactly the river becomes unhealthy and why.

Images: Time to collect some bugs © Evie Drinnan 

John then took us down to the riverbank of the Coal River, just downstream of the Richmond Bridge, so we could collect some bugs. Two participants and John entered the water in waders to collect bugs from a variety of habitats within the river (e.g. reeds, woody debris, rocks/gravel).

Image: The Waterbug App analyses our samples © The Waterbug App 

We then put the bugs into our trays to identify them using The Waterbug App. We collected an impressive 17 different species, but unfortunately, this section of the river still scored a low 3.2/10 for river health.


Image: The Waterbug App analyses our samples © The Waterbug App 

This low score is due to the species present being common in all rivers regardless of health, and not including any species that only occur in really healthy rivers. Despite this somewhat bad news, we all had fun and learnt a lot, and now feel like we are equipped to survey a section of river on our own.

Thank you to John for leading yet another engaging workshop! This workshop was made possible by the Tasmanian Government's Landcare Action Grants and the JM Roberts Charitable Trust.