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Third Rock Consultants

Aquatic Taxonomy

With 50 plus years of collective experience, Third Rock ecologists and taxonomists have collected, processed, and identified over 10,000 macroinvertebrate samples.  Representative clients include federal, state, and municipal governmental agencies across the Southeastern United States. Services include, but are not limited to, macroinvertebrate sampling, laboratory services, project management and electronic data delivery.



Third Rock staff are extensively trained in region-specific macroinvertebrate protocols. Our aquatic taxonomists, both master's-level ecologists, are extensively trained and uniquely qualified, maintaining national certification from the Society of Freshwater Science (formerly the North American Benthological Society) in:


  • Eastern Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera

  • Eastern Chironomidae

  • Eastern General Arthropods   


Additionally, Third Rock's Senior Aquatic Taxonomist maintains Ohio EPA, Surface Water Credible Data Program Qualified Data Collector Level 3 certification for collection, identification, and data evaluation of aquatic macroinvertebrates since 2003.


Samples are identified in our state-of-the-art aquatic laboratory using the best equipment currently available to identify samples to the lowest possible taxonomic level (using the most current taxonomic references). Data analysis varies based upon the needs of our clients, but it can include richness measures, diversity indices, modified Hilsenhoff biotic index, functional feeding group analysis, invertebrate community index, and statistical analysis. Third Rock staff are familiar with and have followed multiple state and federal protocols including:


  • Kentucky Division of Water

  • Ohio Environmental Protection Agency

  • West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection

  • Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency


Our staff collaborate to ensure accurate identifications and frequently attend national and regional scientific meetings to remain current on aquatic macroinvertebrate taxonomy. Quality Assurance and Quality Control measures are employed for all stages of sample processing, including sample sorting, identification, data entry, and data analysis to ensure delivery of credible data.




Using Microsoft Access, Third Rock designed a custom Macroinvertebrate Laboratory Information Management System (MacLIMS) to streamline all aspects of sample and data management within the laboratory. The system allows management to easily establish and maintain laboratory workflow on a “real-time” basis and generate Electronic Data Deliverables (EDDs) (establishing a paperless reporting process for both the laboratory and the client). Data can also be exported to Excel format, and station metric calculations can be generated upon request. Structured levels of security, quality assurance protocol, and data review have been incorporated into the design of MacLIMS to ensure the validity and integrity of all samples from start to finish.



Third Rock has processed and identified macroinvertebrate samples for clients across the United States including federal, state, and local agencies; engineering consulting firms; industry; and environmental groups. Recent representative clients include the following:


  • City of Chattanooga (Tennessee)

  • Hamilton County (Tennessee)

  • Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Division of Environmental Analysis

  • Kentucky Division of Water

  • Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (Kentucky)

  • Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District (Kentucky)

  • Northern Kentucky Sanitation District #1 (Kentucky)

  • Northeastern Ohio Regional Sewer District (Ohio)

  • ORSANCO (Ohio)   

  • US Environmental Protection Agency Region IV

  • US Army Corps of Engineers (Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio)

  • West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection

Macroinvertebrate Sorting
Macroinvertebrate Collection
Macroinvertebrate Identification
Macroinvertebrate Collection
Fish Survey
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