CABIN (Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network)

CABIN (Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network)
Living Lakes Canada was one of the first non-governmental organizations to be certified by the Canadian federal government to deliver field training for the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN), and has been leading CABIN training courses across British Columbia and Canada for the past decade.


The Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) was created by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) as a collaborative initiative to assess freshwater ecosystem health throughout the country. It uses nationally standardized monitoring protocols, collecting benthic macroinvertebrate samples alongside hydrology, channel, habitat and water quality data to assess stream health. Benthic macroinvertebrates, the community of organisms that live in the substrates along the bottom of a river or stream, are indicators of aquatic health due to their high sensitivity to pollutants and climate change-related impacts.


Living Lakes Canada was one of the first non-governmental organizations to be certified by the Canadian federal government to deliver field training for CABIN, a consistent and collaborative approach to assess aquatic ecosystem health that is mainly used for small to medium sized creeks.

Living Lakes Canada facilitates private CABIN training sessions for Indigenous and non-Indigenous community-based water monitoring groups. These customizable training sessions provide participants with background knowledge and hands-on practice with the CABIN protocols. Living Lakes Canada has been leading CABIN training courses across British Columbia and Canada for 10 years and is now partnering with ECCC-recognized certified CABIN trainers to offer customized group training courses in CABIN field methods.

Benthic (bottom-dwelling) macroinvertebrates (small animals without a backbone) are collected by participants using the standardized 3-minute kick-net protocol, demonstrated in the video clip below. Once collected, the benthics are sent to qualified taxonomists who then identify the type and number of organisms (family or genus level) present based on physical traits.

The data collected are uploaded to the national CABIN database for statistical analysis. In areas where reference models have been developed, the Reference Condition Approach (RCA) can be applied, comparing unimpacted/minimally impacted sites to sites under the influence of human activities. Abundance, richness and diversity metrics can also be compiled from the uploaded data by certified CABIN Project Managers to assess the condition of the site. Reports summarizing the statistical analysis conducted in the CABIN database can be output for users to assist in reporting on stream health and site condition.


CABIN offers users the opportunity to assess stream health using standardized protocols and scientifically sound statistical analysis. Through proper application, CABIN offers an opportunity to understand how point-source and nonpoint-source pollution affects freshwater ecosystem health. Repeating sampling efforts over time allows users to measure the cumulative impacts, of changes in upstream land use, on the condition at the site. Scientifically rigorous, CABIN enables users to monitor and report on the condition of their sites in watersheds across the nation.


Training in 2024 will be hosted by the Canadian Rivers Institute through a series of Online Modules. These modules are delivered by ECCC and contain the theory component of CABIN training. To learn more about CABIN and register for CABIN training visit the CRI website. If you or your organization is interested in hosting a private Field Training session, please contact Living Lakes Biomonitoring.


Learn more about CABIN on the ECCC website.


To inquire about holding a Living Lakes Canada-coordinated CABIN training for a private group or organization, please email us at

CABIN (Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network)

News and Updates

Measuring Water Heath with Bioindicators (pg. 24) – Water Canada Magazine, Mar/Apr 2024

Different ways the public participate in scientific research: Monitoring the health of streams with community-collected bugsCanadian Science Publishing, Oct 12 2022

“It’s at the very core of everything”: The significance of Canada’s wild riversCanadian Geographic, June 2019

Wading into water concerns in the Bow BasinHigh Country News, Dec 8 2022

Lower Fraser First Nations embrace biomonitoring to protect fish habitatLiving Lakes Canada, Nov 23 2022

Diving into STREAM/CABIN training in Fredericton, New BrunswickLiving Lakes Canada, June 23 2022

For a complete list of news features, visit our In The News page!

Funders & Contributors

Alberta EcoTrust Bonneville Environmental Foundation
Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners MakeWay Foundation
Ministry of Water, Land, and Resource Stewardship University of Guelph
University of Calgary Environment and Climate Change Canada
World Wildlife Fund Province of British Columbia
McLean Foundation Real Estate Foundation of BC
Watersheds BC Healthy Watersheds Initiative
Shuswap Band Sitka Foundation