, Volume 658, Issue 1, pp 293–302 | Cite as

Comparison of benthic macroinvertebrate communities by two methods: Kick- and U-net sampling

  • Robert B. Brua
  • Joseph M. Culp
  • Glenn A. Benoy
Primary research paper


The assessment of benthic invertebrate community condition is an integral component of freshwater biomonitoring and water quality determination. Several sampling devices have been developed to collect benthic macroinvertebrates, including qualitative, semi-quantitative, and quantitative methods. In this study, we compared several benthic macroinvertebrate metrics and community assemblage measures calculated from data obtained from two sampling methods, namely the Kick- and U-net sampling devices. We reasoned that if the two methods produced similar values for benthic metrics and community composition, then samples collected by these methods should be able to be combined to build larger data sets for use in regional bioassessment analyses. No statistical differences between Kick- and U-net methods were found among standard benthic macroinvertebrate metrics, except for Kick-nets collecting more Chironomidae. Invertebrate assemblages were very similar between collection methods, although slightly greater taxonomic richness was found in U-net samples. Bray–Curtis similarity was typically >75% between methods within a stream, while classification strength-sampling-method comparability, an approach for analyzing differences in similarity between groups, indicated invertebrate assemblage similarity between collection methods was virtually identical at approximately 100%. Since these two methods produce similar results, we conclude that benthic macroinvertebrate data collected by these methods can be combined for data analysis and bioassessments with the caveat that mesh size of the sample nets is similar. In addition, if the primary study objective is to assess macroinvertebrate biodiversity, then the U-net sampling device may be more appropriate, despite the slightly greater time needed to complete field sample collection, as it tended to collect a greater diversity of species.


Benthic macroinvertebrates Kick-net U-net Sampling methods Bioassessment Classification strength-sampling-method comparability 



Financial support for the work was provided by Environment Canada and the National Agri-Environmental Standards Initiative and a Discovery Grant to JMC from Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). We also acknowledge laboratory support from the Canadian Rivers Institute at the University of New Brunswick and the Potato Research Centre of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. A. Alexander, R. Allaby, D. Halliwell, K. Heard, D. Hryn, N. Horrigan, O. Logan, E. Luiker, K. Roach, R. Smedley, and A. Sutherland assisted in field and laboratory work. R. Clarke provided several helpful suggestions regarding statistical analyses.


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Copyright information

© UK Crown: Environment Canada 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert B. Brua
    • 1
  • Joseph M. Culp
    • 2
  • Glenn A. Benoy
    • 3
  1. 1.Environment CanadaNational Hydrology Research CentreSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.Environment Canada (NWRI) and Canadian Rivers Institute, Department of BiologyUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada
  3. 3.Environment Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food CanadaPotato Research CentreFrederictonCanada

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