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A complementary suite of freshwater invertebrate based monitoring tools for citizen scientists

A group of people stand in a river and crowd around their nets as they check their samples, a grassy bank can be ssen in the backgroundAs the population continues to expand, and our dependence on the environment increases, it is more important than ever that we keep a close eye on the health of our water ecosystems. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of citizen science schemes available that enable people of all ages and knowledge levels to engage with and monitor the condition of their rivers.

Riverfly monitoring is a brilliant way for volunteers to carry out river health checks. Freshwater invertebrates spend the majority of their lifecycles as larvae living underwater, sometimes for years! The abundance and diversity of the invertebrate community present in a river is highly linked with the quality and quantity of the water surrounding them. This relationship means that invertebrates are excellent indicators of water quality which, when monitored, provide data that can be used in diagnostic testing. Similar to a blood test, by looking at what’s there and what isn’t, we can derive a wealth of information about their condition.

There are many Riverfly monitoring schemes around, so it can be tricky to understand why so many different schemes are necessary. To address this, together with our colleagues at Salmon & Trout Conservation, we have built a helpful one page document that explains how ARMI, the Extended Riverfly scheme (due to be launched nationally along the Urban Riverfly scheme at the 5th Riverfly Partnership conference at the Natural History Museum, London on 20 March 2020), Riverfly Plus and SmartRivers all fit together. They do provide different types of information for slightly different purposes, but are all hugely important in our efforts to conserve and protect riuvers and streams.

So, whether you choose to volunteer for one scheme, more than one or all of them, please know that your contribution is incredibly valued and from all of us at the Riverfly Partnership and Salmon & Trout Conservation, thank you.

For more information on ARMI and Riverfly Plus, including Extended Riverfly:

For more information on S&TC’s SmartRivers:

The Riverfly Partnership wishes to thank S&TC Smart Rivers Project Manager, Lauren Mattingley for providing this article