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Taxonomic Certification Programme

The accurate and precise identification and classification of organisms provides the foundation for many ecological investigations of streams, rivers, and lakes, including biological assessment and monitoring programs aimed at evaluating the quality of habitat and water.

High quality taxonomy is crucial to credible ecological studies and reliable bio assessment programs. However, there is concern that (A) there are many errors and inaccuracies associated with the taxonomy of some on-going programs; (B) there is no recognized protocol in North America for evaluating the taxonomic ability of people identifying invertebrates; and (C) academic support for faculty positions and student training related to non-molecular, organism taxonomy is declining. These concerns have been expressed to the SFS leadership by a number of state and federal agencies (e.g., Kentucky, North Carolina; Environment Canada, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Geological Survey) involved in environmental regulation and monitoring as well as by individuals involved in both basic and applied scientific research.

Consequently, the SFS decided to implement a certification program for those involved with invertebrate identification in North America. This program will certify that trained and skilled persons are providing aquatic invertebrate identifications. In addition, it is anticipated that this program will help promote undergraduate and graduate training of new taxonomic experts, the training of taxonomic technicians through workshops, the development of new manuals for identifying aquatic invertebrates, and taxonomic excellence in other disciplines and other parts of the world. The certification program will test a candidate's knowledge and skills in aquatic invertebrate taxonomy and will provide the successful applicant with a certificate of proficiency. The program is administered on behalf of SFS.

Individuals may be certified either at the "Family Level" or "Genus Level"

Genus level testing is conducted using image files (EPT and Chironomidae), specimens (general Arthropods) and slide mounted (Oligochaeta) in scheduled certification examination events. The Genus level tests are held at various locations in North America as well as at the annual SFS conference. The upcoming test events are listed on the web site. 

The Family level tests are web based using images and can be taken online at prearranged testing centers with a registered Proctor or web cam from your home base. 

In addition we offer a free self evaluation test to prepare candidates for the online testing. 

Every effort is made to offer testing as close to the test candidates as possible so please get in touch to set up a test supervisor in your area.

The SFS Taxonomic Certification Committee considers successful completion of certification tests to be an objective reflection of the capability of an individual to perform accurate and precise taxonomic identifications consistently within the taxa groups for which they are certified. The committee also understands that valid certification does not guarantee that a holder will consistently produce high quality taxonomic data. Therefore, routine and rigorous quality control (QC) oversight, as described in the document Quality Control Procedure for Sample-Based Taxonomic Data, is very important and necessary for all projects involving macro invertebrate identifications.



All Taxonomic Certifications stand for five years. Please contact the TCP about your renewal process.


January 1st.,2016 : Certification Test Fees Changes - Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Please visit the "TCP Test Fees" page for changes that will be implemented on January1st.,2016.

Aug.2015- QA/QC Guidlines are now posted on the TCP site - Friday, August 7, 2015


2014 Taxonomic News: - Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Nomenclatura Oligochaetologica Editio Secunda (2014) website

On Monday 6 January 2014, Mark J. Wetzel (INHS) and John Reynolds (Oligochaetology Lab) launched a new website presenting the second edition of Nomenclatura Oligochaetologica Editio Secunda  – a catalogue of names, descriptions, and type specimens of the Oligochaeta.

     URL: http://wwx.inhs.illinois.edu/people/mjwetzel/nomenoligo

Mollusk to Genus Level Online Images Test - Monday, November 25, 2013

The Mollusk Test  beta mode posted June 24th.,2013 has been taken down until work is completed on existing and additional genera. 
Please get in touch : gail.corkum@acadiau.ca if you have specimens and /or images to contribute.

You must be registered on the TCP site, and then logged in before taking the online tests. 

Membership Services:
254 399.9639 | info@freshwater-science.org