Posted: May 4, 2013 7:17 PM by Katy Harris KXLF News
Updated: May 6, 2013 2:39 PM
MELROSE - A southwest Montana river has a diverse insect community.
Michael Bias began sampling bugs in 2007 on the Big Hole River. He is the executive director for the Big Hole River Foundation.
Bias wanted to assess river health by seeing what insects were and were not found in the river.
"You've got vegetarian bugs. You've got predator bugs. You've got bugs that eat dead stuff. And if you have a good, healthy community of bugs, you have a good river and that's what we look for," he said.
Bias samples bug communities three times a year at 24 locations. He samples from the top of the river down to Twin Bridges.
The study shows that since 2007 the Big Hole River health has improved.
"For those who fly fish out there you know that Salmon Flies and Caddis Flies and May Flies are the big three bugs and those communities have increased in numbers and diversity since 2007," says Bias.
A second year Salmon Fly means it's been able to live in the Big Hole River for that long, an indicator of healthy water.
If certain insects start declining in numbers, Bias could make physical adjustments to the river like provide shade to cool the water or decrease flow intensity along river banks.
A combination of good winter snow packs and river conservation has contributed to a healthy aquatic insect population on the Big Hole River.