Aquatic Experimental Laboratory (AXL)

Science Center Objects

Aquatic invertebrates are a key component of freshwater ecosystems, and an understanding of aquatic invertebrate taxonomy is central to freshwater science. The U.S. Geological Survey Aquatic Experimental Lab (AXL) at the Fort Collins Science Center has developed the North American Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Digital Reference Collection (NAAMDRC) to provide users with a graphic tool to aid in the identification and verification of aquatic macroinvertebrates.

AXL has developed a method for cataloging and digitizing reference specimens in such a way that a series of digital images provides enough information on key structures so a physical specimen is no longer necessary for verification. By using the most advanced and widely used taxonomic keys available, we have annotated important defining characteristics of each specimen so that non-expert technicians can more easily identify invertebrates found in aquatic samples.

A microscope used for the AXL image processing.

A specimen imaging process taking place in the Aquatic Experimental Lab (AXL). Public domain.

A microscopic picture of a Dytiscus insect from the AXL lab at the Fort Collins Science Center.

A microscopic picture of a Dytiscus insect from the AXL lab at the Fort Collins Science Center. Photo by: Morgan Ford, USGS. Public domain.

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