A total of 88 invertebrate species and 178 genera representing 59 families, 8 orders, 6 classes, and 3 phyla was identified at 38 stream sites in the Mississippi Embayment Study Unit from 1996 through 1999 as part of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program. Sites were selected based on land use within the drainage basins and the availability of long-term streamflow data. Invertebrates were sampled as part of an overall sampling design to provide information related to the status and trends in water quality in the Mississippi Embayment Study Unit, which includes parts of Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.
Invertebrate sampling and processing was conducted using nationally standardized techniques developed for the National Water-Quality Assessment Program. These techniques included both a semi-quantitative method, which targeted habitats where invertebrate diversity is expected to be highest, and a qualitative multihabitat method, which samples all available habitat types possible within a sampling reach. All invertebrate samples were shipped to the USGS National Water-Quality Laboratory (NWQL) where they were processed.
Of the 365 taxa identified, 156 were identified with the semi-quantitative method that involved sampling a known quantity of what was expected to be the richest habitat, woody debris. The qualitative method, which involved sampling all available habitats, identified 345 taxa The number of organisms identified in the semi-quantitative samples ranged from 74 to 3,295, whereas the number of taxa identified ranged from 9 to 54. The number of organisms identified in the qualitative samples ranged from 42 to 29,634, whereas the number of taxa ranged from 18 to 81. From all the organisms identified, chironomid taxa were the most frequently identified, and plecopteran taxa were among the least frequently identified.