Leaders in macroinvertebrate identification for environmental monitoring.



Leaders in macroinvertebrate identification for environmental monitoring

Our expertise

Our team of researchers and technicians have over 35 years’ experience in freshwater sample processing and offer extensive taxonomy services for freshwater aquatic fauna of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Cawthron staff have been involved in the development of the freshwater sample processing protocols used nationwide including:

  • Stark JD, Boothroyd IKG, Harding JS, Maxted JR, Scarsbrook MR (2001) Protocols for sampling macroinvertebrates in wadeable streams. New Zealand Macroinvertebrate Working Group Report No. 1. Prepared for Ministry for the Environment. Sustainable Management Fund Project No. 5103. 57 p.
  • National Environmental Monitoring Standards (NEMS)  (2022) National Environmental Monitoring Standards for Macroinvertebrates: Collection and Processing of Macroinvertebrate Samples from Rivers and Streams. New Zealand Ministry for the Environment. Version 1.0, June 2022.

We have a sound understanding of what your sample processing needs will be, as our processing team’s freshwater expertise extends beyond the laboratory. We can also provide you with advice on sample design, field collection techniques, and analysis and interpretation of results.


Cawthron-FW-Fish Passage Assessment-Robin Holmes

Our services

Our taxonomic expertise includes services for:

  • environmental impact assessments, consenting requirements, SOE sample processing
  • verification of freshwater fauna identification (quality control)
  • education and/or training
  • calculation (and if required interpretation) of the biotic indices commonly used throughout New Zealand to assess freshwater ecosystem health
  • providing a wider holistic ecological context around the fauna we identify if required. Our ecological knowledge of the animals we identify means we know not only what they look like, but we also understand how they interact with each other and as a part of the environment around them. 

Our Taxonomy Laboratory offers:

  • Specialist expertise in invertebrate taxonomy, in riverine and lake benthic macro- and micro- invertebrate fauna
  • A no-nonsense, friendly approach to providing sound expert advice so your needs/requirements are met
  • Excellent working knowledge of the most recent sample processing protocols and application of the methods within
  • Quality assurance/control services 
  • Photo microscopy capability and large-scale sample data entry and storage on our in-house database
  • Separate safe and secure facilities for storing samples, if required.


    For more information about the taxonomy services offered by Cawthron Institute, please contact Karen Shearer.

    Karen Shearer

    Karen Shearer

    Freshwater ecologist