Freshwater macroinvertebrates are sensitive to changes in the environment and reflect a watershed’s health. Monitoring these freshwater creatures helps to maintain healthy freshwater ecosystems that support humans and wildlife.

Freshwater systems are critical resources for communities and wildlife which play a fundamental ecological and economic role. Our team monitors streams and tributaries within four major watersheds across the Maya Golden Landscape: Monkey River, Rio Grande River, Golden Stream River and Deep River. These watersheds provide clean water for drinking and washing, recreation space for communities and habitat and food for wildlife.

As biological indicators of fresh watersheds, invertebrates react quickly to changes and stressors associated with water pollution due to agricultural practices, mineral extraction and deforestation within the area. This helps our team to identify environmental problems at a landscape level and implement a proactive response to mitigate the challenges.

Our team collects macroinvertebrates seasonally at 12 sites in 4 watersheds. We search and collect these freshwater insects in a range of habitats: rocks, logs, vegetation, and sediments. Later, our team goes into the identification process in the lab under a microscope. Each site is scored based on the proportion of pollution-sensitive macroinvertebrates present. In addition, physical and chemical conditions are measured at each site and added to the overall quality score.

Ya’axché freshwater monitoring and research efforts have helped to maintain healthy freshwater ecosystems not only in the protected areas but also in downstream communities. This information helps the organization to build an effective watershed management approach and advocate against land degradation.

Learn more about our freshwater monitoring research activities and visit Downloads.