Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN)

The Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) is an aquatic biomonitoring program for assessing the health of fresh water ecosystems in Canada. CABIN is based on the network of networks approach that promotes inter-agency collaboration and data-sharing to achieve consistent and comparable reporting on fresh water quality and aquatic ecosystem conditions in Canada. The program is maintained by Environment Canada (EC) to support the collection, assessment, reporting and distribution of biological monitoring information. CABIN allows partners to take their observations and make a formalized scientific assessment using nationally comparable standards.

The program is also part of the core monitoring tools used by Environment Canada in priority programs and ecosystems, namely the Joint Canada- Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring, and the following Initiatives: Great Lakes Basin, St. Lawrence River and Lake Winnipeg Basin.  CABIN also supports the Environment Effects Monitoring. Biological assessment information generated as part of the CABIN program contributes to annual Environment Canada reporting requirements under the Canada Water Act and Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

A set of national CABIN protocols are used for field collection, laboratory work, and analysis of biological monitoring data. A training program is available to certify participants in the standard national protocols. Upon completion of training, participants are equipped to apply the CABIN protocols to their biomonitoring studies and gain access to the national CABIN database. The CABIN database provides partners with tools to store, manage, analyse and report on their biological monitoring data.

3 Key Reasons CABIN works for Water Resource Management

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Infographic Long Description

The Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) provides nationally standardized training and tools for biomonitoring using benthic macroinvertebrate communities. There are three (3) key reasons why using the CABIN website and protocols works for water resource management:

  1. CABIN facilitates Informed Decision Making; it helps answer key questions about aquatic health for watershed management.
    • Questions about the STATUS of the benthic invertebrate community, allowing for reporting on current environmental health.
    • Questions about TRENDS and changes in the benthic invertebrate community, which aid in restoration projects and can provide early warning indicators of disturbance.
    • Questions from environmental assessments, useful for REGULATORY studies.
    • Questions about ecosystem recovery during REMEDIATION efforts following environmental emergencies.
    • Quantification of the benthic macroinvertebrate community can also address other questions, such as those asked in biodiversity research.
  2. CABIN helps scientists study Cumulative Effects through Biological Monitoring, allowing them to assess the combined impacts of all upstream pressures on watersheds using meaningful baseline conditions.
    • CABIN shows users an Integrated Ecological Condition; a single CABIN sample represents effects on aquatic biota over time and can capture evidence of multiple disturbance events.
  3. CABIN provides a very cost effecting approach to aquatic health monitoring, especially in remote locations in Canada, where resource development is occurring.
    • CABIN’s “Network of Networks” approach amplifies accessible information on aquatic health in Canada and powerful data sharing permits agencies to assess and report on aquatic health.

CABIN stakeholders across Canada enjoy using and contributing to the network and regularly see the benefits.

  • Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources (UINR) recognizes that “CABIN provides [them] with the opportunity to develop a relationship with the river.”
  • An NGO noted that “CABIN has increased the legitimacy of [their] organization with its robust methods.”
  • Consultants using CABIN state that it is “ideal for assessing change in water quality.”
  • Government partners know the value of the CABIN network and tools, with the BC Ministry of the Environment recommending proponents use CABIN methods, and Parks Canada continuing to use CABIN as a cornerstone to their freshwater ecological monitoring program despite cutbacks. In the North, the Yukon Government greatly benefits from CABIN’s online tools and training.

The CABIN website can be found at http://ec.gc.ca/rcba-cabin

Quick Facts

The large mandibles in the larval stage of the dobsonfly (Megaloptera) make it a ferocious predator of large invertebrates in aquatic ecosystems. They can also inflict a nasty bite if mishandled. Photo: Adam Martens© Environment Canada 2014

In Focus

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Stream sampling of benthic invertebrates with a kicknet

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