Welcome to the Leaf Pack Network, an international network of people investigating their local stream ecosystems. Leaf Pack Network is part of WikiWatershed, an initiative of Stroud Water Research Center to help people advance knowledge and stewardship of fresh water.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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How do I get involved with the Leaf Pack Network?

Individuals and groups around the world are encouraged to join Leaf Pack Network! We ask that you carefully follow the procedures and that you are comfortable with macroinvertebrate identification.

  1. Gather materials to conduct the experiment.
  2. Choose a stream that is safely accessible.
  3. Follow instructions in the Leaf Pack Network Manual.
  4. Share your data on Monitor My Watershed!

If possible, it is recommended that you attend a leaf pack workshop. You’ll be trained in protocols for gathering data and identifying macroinvertebrates, increasing the accuracy and reliability of your data. Good scientific experimental design needs to be consistent so results can be compared, analyzed and interpreted. Subscribe to our e-newsletter to be notified when workshops are scheduled.

Can anyone share data on Monitor My Watershed?

Yes, as long as procedures were properly followed to ensure consistency among leaf pack experiments AND you are confident with the macroinvertebrate data you are posting. Macroinvertebrates.org is a great resource for aquatic insect identification.

What is the best time of year to do a leaf pack project?

In temperate regions, autumn is when nature produces the most natural leaf packs. When winter rolls around people think they missed their opportunity to do a leaf pack project. Not true! Many people are unaware that stream life is as active in the winter as it is in the summer. Some macroinvertebrates have adapted to perform at their best in cold temperatures and others have adapted to be most active in warmer months. Because natural leaf packs can be found year-round, a leaf pack project can be done year-round.

How long should I leave the leaf packs in the stream?

You should leave your leaf packs in the stream for three to four weeks. We encourage you to check your leaf packs weekly to ensure they are still in place and so you can see how quickly they are decomposing. Every stream is different and every leaf has a different decomposition rate.

How can I ensure that I will not lose my leaf packs?

Our scientists found it can be difficult to tie leaf packs to in-stream rocks in a way that keeps them in place during high stream flow. If you do not have a large rock (over a foot/30 cm in a least one dimension) on which to securely tie the leaf pack, you can:

  1. Tie the leaf bag to a construction brick (brick with holes in the center) with strong fishing line.
  2. Place the brick, with the attached leaf bag, in the stream with the long axis of the brick parallel to the direction of the water flow.
  3. Drive stakes through the holes in the brick into the stream bottom. We advise this for use in small low-flow streams. See images and detailed instructions.