The OSPR Laboratory Programs’ Aquatic Bioassessment Laboratory (ABL) was established in 1993 to promote the use of ecological indicators to measure the health of freshwater ecosystems in California. ABL scientists have led state efforts to develop the technical foundation and these tools are now widely used to assess, protect and restore streams, rivers and lakes in the state. The ABL is housed in Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, and on the campus of Chico State University.
Under contract with the State Water Board’s Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP), the ABL has lead responsibility for the design, management and implementation of the State Water Board’s SWAMP Bioassessment Program. The vision of the SWAMP Bioassessment Program is to fully integrate measures of ecological integrity into California’s water resource management programs; California prioritizes this information to measure, protect and restore its waterbodies.
ABL field staff are highly experienced and provide a wide range of ecological sampling services. ABL staff have established California’s standard field sampling protocols for macroinvertebrates and algae, as well as associated physical habitat and chemical monitoring. The ABL also plays a key role in developing quality assurance / quality control procedures for field data and provides training and auditing services.
The ABL has a very active collaborative research program focused on improving the information and tools needed to assess ecological health and causes of impairment in California’s freshwater ecosystems and to supporting the integration of ecological condition indicators in a broad range of regulatory and management programs.
The ABL's taxonomic staff have an average of 20 years of taxonomic experience. ABL taxonomists perform the majority of the taxonomic identifications for the SWAMP program and they are the official bioassessment QA laboratory for SWAMP. ABL taxonomic staff are key members of the Southwest Association of Freshwater Invertebrate Taxonomists, which is responsible for establishing and maintaining taxonomic standards for California.