Animal Surveys

White Water Associates scientists have a wide range of experience conducting animal surveys for species found in terrestrial, wetland, and aquatic habitats. Our staff is trained and experienced in animal identification, ecology, and a large variety of survey and study methods. We conduct surveys for aquatic macroinvertebrates, freshwater mussels, fishes, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. We have conducted surveys in a wide variety of ecological settings including:  riparian areas, forested blocks, ecotones, open lands, streams, wetlands, and lakes. Project settings have included natural areas, state and federal lands, conservancy lands, transmission corridors, transportation rights-of-way, industrial forest land, Tribal lands, industrial sites, construction sites, and private property. Our goal is to help clients comply with environmental requirements and assist them in making informed decisions about resource issues.

White Water Associates conducts a variety of macroinvertebrate surveys as part of projects intended to evaluate nonpoint source pollution impacts on streams. In order to detect changes in the biotic communities, methods are sensitive and reproducible. Biosurvey and rapid bioassessment protocols involve evaluation of the macroinvertebrate (including aquatic insects) community and habitat quality in wadable streams. For some studies, more quantitative methods are required and may use devices such as kick nets, Surber samplers, artificial substrates, and leaf packs.

Native freshwater mussels are crucial components of aquatic ecosystems. They contribute to water quality through filter feeding, provide a food source for many animals, and are important environmental indicator organisms. Freshwater mussels include a high percentage of species that are threatened or endangered. White Water Associates conducts surveys for mussels in support of road commission and department of transportation projects where construction near streams potentially impacts the habitat. We also conduct mussel surveys in lakes to determine species composition and potential impacts by aquatic invasive species such as zebra or quagga mussels. On occasion mussel surveys are supported by snorkel or SCUBA gear.

Fish surveys can be conducted by a variety of methods. White Water scientists can identify both adult and larval fishes as well as game and non game species.

Amphibians and reptiles are surveyed by a variety of techniques including aural surveys (identifying advertisement calls of frogs and toads), meander searches in appropriate habitat, and characterization of habitat (feeding, breeding, nesting, and overwintering). Depending on the study question, pitfall traps and drift fences, turtle traps, and seining might be used. White Water Associates scientists can also identify amphibian larvae.

Bird survey methods are employed that are appropriate to the species of interest and the study goals. Methods range from meander searches in appropriate habitat to timed counts at listening points. Auditory and visual cues are used to identify birds. Waterfowl surveys can be conducted at fixed points. Standard methods are used in all cases with appropriate measures of survey thoroughness.

Mammal surveys are conducted by a variety of methods. Tracks, sign, and scat can be identified and recorded along transects or meander searches. Winter tracking surveys take advantage of a good tracking substrate. When suitable tracking substrate is absent, sooted plates or track boxes can be used. Motion sensitive cameras can be used to record mammal presence.