SmartRivers: Using Freshwater Invertebrates to Monitor River Health

Monday 4th December, 2023 - 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Online via Zoom

Hear about how SmartRivers is empowering communities and organisations to use freshwater invertebrate populations to monitor river health.

Rivers in the UK are facing an unprecedented threat from human disturbance but it can be challenging to identify the pollutants that are driving biodiversity loss in a particular location through traditional water testing methods. However, the invertebrates living in our waterways are particularly sensitive to pollution and the impacts can clearly be seen in their populations long after any particular incident. SmartRivers is a pioneering programme run by WildFish that builds on the work of The Riverfly Census using surveys of freshwater invertebrate populations to identify the challenges facing freshwater systems.

This project enables community groups, trusts, and other organisations to benchmark and monitor the health of their own rivers. The evidence collected by the SmartRivers programme allows for both local and national engagement on a range of issues to better protect our valuable freshwater habitats. In this talk Sam will give an overview of the methods used to monitor freshwater invertebrate populations, the work we do, and how you can get involved. He will also discuss the power of citizen science in addressing gaps in government monitoring efforts and highlight some case studies demonstrating the importance of data collected from WildFish’s SmartRivers programme.

Dr Sam Green is a freshwater ecologist at WildFish primarily supporting SmartRivers. WildFish is the only independent charity in the UK campaigning for wild fish and their habitats. We identify and lobby against the key threats driving the decline in wild fish populations, from various forms of pollution to open-net salmon farming. Ultimately, our goal is for fresh and coastal water habitats that are clean, healthy, biodiverse, and able to support sustainable populations of wild fish.

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