The Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network

Matt and Oleysa sampling in the fieldThe Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network (OBBN) is a multi-sector collaboration. The OBBN features standard sampling protocols, training, and a centralized database. Led by staff at the Dorset Environmental Science Centre (DESC) this monitoring focuses on bottom-dwelling aquatic invertebrates to check the condition of Ontario's lakes, streams, and wetlands. 

The OBBN allows for organizations to

  • compare data from different times or locations,
  • access reference site data needed to assess the condition of lakes, streams, and wetlands,
  • access technical support and analytical tools, and 
  • have input on the scientific questions to be addressed by the OBBN. 

Two types of training courses are organized periodically by OBBN certified Network trainers. 

OBBN Basic Training (3-day course) 

This course will cover

  • biomonitoring theory
  • sampling methods,
  • laboratory methods,
  • bioassessment calculations.

Tests covering sampling methods and invertebrate identification are offered at the end of the course. Students passing the tests receive a certificate that signifies their status as OBBN members. Basic training courses are typically provided in May and September. 

 Register for September

Family ID (3-day course) 

This course prepares registrants for the Family-level Taxonomic Certification Exam that is administered by the Society for Freshwater Science’s (SFS’s) Taxonomic Certification Program. To pass the SFS certification, taxonomists must master the

  • terminology used in family-level keys, 
  • the characters that distinguish families in each major group of invertebrates, and the
  • morphological variability that exists within families. 

This course provides students with an opportunity to acquire such skills and experience. Emphasis is on taxa from eastern North America (especially Ontario). The format of the course includes a combination of lectures, demonstrations, instructor-guided practice and mock tests.

OBBN Field Sheets

The OBBN has released 3 standardized field sheets for stream, lake and wetland habitats. The field sheets have been created to align closely with the data entry process for the OBBN Database, thus reducing the amount of time that is needed for bulk uploads. There are two versions for stream field sheets to allow for organizations to pick the one which meets their needs best. 

 Stream Field Sheet #1

 Stream Field Sheet #2

 Lakes/Wetland Field Sheet

Contact Chris Jones if your organization requires any kind of accommodations to the field sheets provided.  

OBBN Database

The OBBN database is a provincially run database that includes:

  • information describing records e.g., sampling agencies, collection dates, and waterbody types
  • sampling locations
  • sample effort and gear type
  • habitat characteristics 
  • water chemistry
  • benthic-invertebrate taxa-counts

There are two standardized templates for uploading data. One for each step in this process. 

 Site Creator

Please send an email to request the latest Data Template.

The first step is to create a site location. This is completed by using either the Site Creator Excel file (located above) or Survey123. To access Survey123 field application please contact the OBBN. The OBBN offers a data visualization tool to view Site Locations submitted by partner organizations.

The second step is adding information to the location. This is completed by using the Data Template Excel file (located above). OBBN Data is freely downloadable (link below) and no restrictions apply to their public use; however, any author intending to use the data in a publication is asked to cite their data source appropriately, and acknowledge the data owner (i.e., the agency that contributed the data).

 OBBN data


Contact the OBBN ( for more information and to get on the mailing list.