AusRivAS Training and Accreditation - Course Outline, Structure and Content

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Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology
Monitoring River Health Initiative Technical Report Number 32
Environment Australia, 2002
ISSN 1447 1280


Course Outline


AusRivAS (Australian River Assessment System) is a prediction system used to assess the biological health of Australian rivers. AusRivAS was developed under the National River Health Program (NRHP) by the Federal Government in 1994, in response to growing concern in Australia for maintaining ecological values. The NRHP involves the major environmental agency in each state and territory and is centrally administered by Environment Australia (EA) and the Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation (LWRRDC). The AusRivAS predictive software was developed at the Co-operative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology (CRCFE).

Fundamental to AusRivAS are predictive models, based on the British RIVPACS models (River InVertebrate Prediction And Classification System, Wright 1995). These models predict the aquatic macroinvertebrate fauna expected to occur at a site in the absence of environmental stress, such as pollution or habitat degradation, to which the fauna collected at a site can be compared. Thus, AusRivAS produces a biological assessment that can be used to indicate the overall ecological health of the site. AusRivAS predictive models have been developed for each state and territory for the main habitat types found in Australian river systems, including riffle, edge, pool and bed habitats.

Each state/territory has models constructed from single season data in addition to models with data combined from several seasons. The AusRivAS predictive system and associated sampling methods offer a number of advantages over traditional assessment techniques. The sampling methods are rapid and standardized within each state/territory, fast turn around of results is possible and the outputs from the AusRivAS models are tailored for a range of users including community groups, managers and ecologists.

AusRivAS sampling methods are standardized within each State and Territory, but vary slightly between them. Therefore, AusRivAS Training and Accreditation Courses have been tailored specifically for each State and Territory. Additional training and accreditation may be required to use AusRivAS as an accredited operator outside the state or territory where initial training was undertaken.

The accuracy and precision of AusRivAS assessments relies on the ability of field and laboratory staff to perform to a satisfactory level. The AusRivAS Training and Accreditation Course is designed to establish an acceptable standard of biological assessment data. Quality control is achieved through the training component, which will reduce the variation and error in results. Quality assurance is achieved through the accreditation component, which will provide potential users with the assurance that the accuracy of results is within controlled and acceptable limits.


Specific aims of the course are:

  1. To provide course participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully conduct assessments of river health, to an acceptable standard, using AusRivAS methods.
  2. To provide uniformity and consistency in the application of AusRivAS methods.


On completion of all components of the program participants will be proficient in:

  1. Obtaining relevant information on selected stream sites, such as catchment area, distance from source, grid reference and altitude.
  2. Identifying different types of macroinvertebrate habitat within streams and the collection of benthic macroinvertebrate samples.
  3. Collecting relevant physical, chemical and habitat field data that is within the acceptable standard of error.
  4. Processing of macroinvertebrate samples, which includes taxonomic identification to appropriate levels, data entry and quality control/assurance procedures.
  5. Operating the AusRivAS predictive models and interpreting the results.

Course Pre-requisites

No pre-requisites are required for the AusRivAS Training and Accreditation Course but some knowledge of freshwater ecology would be beneficial. If you wish to teach others the AusRivAS methods, to an accreditation standard, you will require certification as an AusRivAS instructor. To achieve certification as an AusRivAS instructor, evidence of experience in performing AusRivAS site assessments (minimum of 50 sites) over a range of stream types and habitats is required.

Course Outline

The course comprises two major components, a training component and an accreditation component. If accreditation is not required, only the training component need be completed. Each component consists of four modules. Depending on the needs of the course participant, one or all of the modules may be completed (with or without accreditation).


  • Introduction to course
  • AusRivAS overview
  • AusRivAS Training Video

The course covers training and accreditation components within each of four modules:

Module 1: Pre-Field & Site Information

  • Preparation for field work (State/Territory specific)
  • Collection of site information (State/Territory specific)

Module 2: Field Work

  • Collection of field data (State/Territory specific)
  • Macroinvertebrate sampling (State/Territory specific)
  • Sample processing - live-sorting (State/Territory specific)

Module 3: Laboratory

  • Sample processing - laboratory sub-sample (State/Territory specific)
  • Macroinvertebrate Identification
  • Data entry
  • Quality Assurance/Quality Control

Module 4: AusRivAS Predictive Models

  • Using the predictive models
  • Interpreting the results

Course Evaluation

  • Course participants will be asked to complete course evaluation forms and provide feedback to course organisers.

Accreditation Status

If accreditation status is granted on completion of the course it will continue for four years, after which time renewal must be sought.

AusRivAS Training and Accreditation: Course Enrolment and Registration Form

Course Enrolment and Registration Form