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An evaluation of benthic macroinvertebrate biomass methodology

Part 1. Laboratory analytical methods

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Evaluation of analytical methods employed for wet weight (live or preserved samples) of benthic macroinvertebrates reveals that centrifugation at 140 x gravity for one minute yields constant biomass estimates. Less relative centrifugal force increases chance of incomplete removal of body moisture and results in weighing error, while greater force may rupture fragile macroinvertebrates, such as mayflies. Duration of specimen exposure in ethanol, formalin, and formol (formaling-ethanol combinations) causes significant body weight loss with within 48 hr formalin and formol cause less body weight loss than ethanol. However, as all preservatives tested cause body weight loss, preservation time of samples collected for comparative purposes should be treated uniformly. Dry weight estimates of macroinvertebrates are not significantly affected by kind of preservative or duration of exposure. Constant dry weights are attained by oven drying at 103 °C at a minimum of four hours or vacuum oven drying (15 inches of mercury pressure) at 103 °C for a minimum of one hour. Although requiring more time in preparation than oven drying and inalterably changing specimen body shape, freeze drying (10 microns pressure, -55 °C, 24 hr) provides constant dry weights and is advantageous for long term sample storage by minimizing curatorial attention. Constant ash-free dry weights of macroinvertebrate samples are attained by igniting samples at 500–550 °C for a minimum of one hour with slow cooling to room temperature in desiccators before weighing.

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Mason, W.T., Lewis, P.A. & Weber, C.I. An evaluation of benthic macroinvertebrate biomass methodology. Environ Monit Assess 3, 29–44 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00394030

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  • Biomass
  • Body Weight Loss
  • Biomass Estimate
  • Benthic Macroinvertebrates
  • Sample Storage