JOPLIN, Mo. — You can tell a lot about the water quality of area rivers, streams, and lakes by the animal species living in them.

Macroinvertebrates are small animals without a spine that live in and around the waters of area creeks. Their mere presence in local waterways means they are in good condition.

Today, Kensi Tillman with the Missouri Department of Conservation hosted a day-long discovery table featuring samples of the animals to visitors at the Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center.

“The good news for Shoal Creek is that we have a healthy stream here with lots of diversity of our macroinvertebrates, and same thing with Silver Creek. The ones I have here today were actually pulled from Silver Creek and we’re seeing lots of diversity with our macroinvertebrates as well,” said Kensi Tillman, Naturalist, Missouri Department of Conservation.

Although the water quality from which the species were from is in good condition, Tillman says it’s not a good idea to drink water directly from them.