Maine Audubon, Department of Environmental Protection and the Lakes Environmental Association and the Portland Water District are looking for stream explorers to help survey large aquatic insects in local streams. The training sessions will take place May 5 and 7. Courtesy photo/Maine Audubon

SCARBOROUGH — An upcoming community science project is looking for people who are interest in exploring southern Maine streams.

Maine Audubon is partnering with the Department of Environmental Projection, the Lakes Environmental Association and the Portland Water District to find and train community members who will survey large aquatic insects, or macroinvertebrates, in southern Maine streams, according to a Maine Audubon press release.

There will be two live webinar training sessions on May 5 and 6 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.  that participants must attend or view.

“All you need to do is attend two online training sessions on how to find and identify approximately 40 ‘Least and Most Wanted’ aquatic insects that are indicators of stream health, and then visit one to three streams between May and October,” said the release. “During your survey you will search for the Least and Most Wanted macroinvertebrates and send in the collected data. We will provide training, equipment, maps of the survey streams, and data forms and instructions. We recommend you conduct your surveys in pairs for safety reasons (even in this pandemic time, that should be safe to do).”

Follow-up in-person training sessions will take place in June in Falmouth, Bridgton and Auburn.

“Large aquatic insects (or macroinvertebrates) are excellent indicators of a changing environment,” said the release. “Some require cold, clean water and high-quality habitat. Others can tolerate warm, polluted water or poor habitat quality. So the presence or absence of different species can inform us about both water quality and the ecological health of a stream.”

The release added, “Macroinvertebrates are also an important food source for many other aquatic and semi-aquatic species and they are often the basis for much of the stream food web. If there are very few insects in the stream, the rest of the aquatic food web will be affected. The data collected by community scientists will provide insight into water quality and the overall health of streams and rivers.”

This project was funded by a grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Maine Audubon said.

A previous volunteer, Bill Keller, said that he feels that the program is making a difference.

“It increases awareness of our stream habitats and how critical they are to life here in the watershed and on our planet in so many ways,” Keller said.

To register, visit

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