The risk of chemicals for ecological communities is often forecast with species sensitivity distributions (SSDs) which are used to predict the concentration which will protect p% of species (PCp value). However, at the PCp value, species richness in nature would not necessary be p% less than at uncontaminated sites. The definition of species richness inherent to SSDs (contaminant category richness) contrasts with species richness typically measured in most field studies (point richness). We determine, for salinity in eastern Australia, whether these definitions of stream macroinvertebrate species richness are commensurable. There were strong relationships (r2>0.87) between mean point species, family and Ephemeroptera, Trichoptera and Plecoptera species richness and their respective contamination category richness. Despite differences in the definition of richness used by SSDs and field biomonitoring, their results in terms of relative species loss from salinity in south-east Australia are similar. We conclude that in our system both definitions are commensurable.