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Volunteer Hanifah Master writes about her experience monitoring rivers

 

I started to volunteer for the Mersey Rivers Trust after I noticed a misconnection in a local culvert and wanted to do something to help monitor that brook at different sites. I attended a River Guardian induction and training session and got paired up with another volunteer local to me and it has been almost a year since I began volunteering with the project.

 

It's great to know that the monthly data we input is being collated to be part of a database that will hopefully help map out the conditions of local waterways and the issues they face. I hope over time to get a better idea of the misconnections in my local area, and help assist in improving the local waterways for people and wildlife.

 

A woman conducts a kick sample in a river, she looks down at the net, the bankside and vegetation is visibel in the background

Naturally, I progressed onto doing the kick sampling training a few months later and wanted to understand how certain species of aquatic invertebrates can be an indicator of water quality. With certain species being less tolerant to pollution than others, I have also learnt that the presence or absence of a species can provide a brief snapshot of river health. Kick sampling, was my first real insight into aquatic invertebrates, and I was really surprised by the whole over world that exists on the stream bed of the river, I find it really fascinating!

 

I am very fortunate to be a volunteer in the Riverfly Partnership, as I have gained first-hand experience and knowledge. Furthermore, being responsible for surveying a set of sample sites really has opened my eyes as to why it is so important that we help protect, maintain and restore our waterways now more than ever.

 

Hanifah Master

Countryfile on Chalk Streams

tv logo showing a river and river bank on the screen The television show Countryfile recently aired an episode on Chalkstreams, now available online via BBC iPlayer.  

It runs through many aspects of our wonderful chalk streams and the work people are doing to conserve them. Some of our partners are featured, including Dr Janina Gray from Salmon and Trout Conservation, and Dr Cyril Bennet, one of our founding members. 

You can view the episode online via BBC iPlayer here. It will be available until the second week of June.

 

The Ver to be featured on Countryfile this Easter Sunday

Logo of a tv showing a stylised view of a river and river bank

The Chairman of the Ver Valley Society, John Pritchard will be on Countryfile this Sunday as he talks about low flow along the Ver.

The Ver Valley Society are one of our partners, and they conduct Riverfly monitoring with their dedicated volunteers. 

The programme will air at 19:00 on Sunday 21st on BBC One, and will be available via BBC iPlayer after that.  

Please click here for the the Ver Valley Society website. They also have a Facebook Page, and are active on Twitter.

 

The Hunt for Red February

The Northern February red stonefly (Brachyptera putata) is a rare species of stonefly. Its stronghold is in the Scottish Highlands, and it has only been spotted on two rivers outside Scotland; the Usk in Wales, and the Wye near Hereford, where it is now thought to be locally extinct.

Buglife's Craig Macadam, with the support of Sottish Natural Heritage and Caignorms National Park Authority, has produced a report on the species. During recent surveys it was found that winter sun is of great importance to the adult Northern February red, who enjoy 'basking' on fenceposts near the river. This has been identified as a useful technique for monitoring them.

Volunteers have recently used this method to find them on the River Dee at Balmoral and the River Conon near Maybank- which is the first time this species have been recorded on the Conon!

“Discovering a new site for the Northern February red stonefly on the River Conon is fantastic. By getting more people spotting stoneflies we can start to fill in the gaps in our understanding of where the Northern February red stonefly lives, which helps with planning action to help this species to survive.”- Craig Macadam, Conservation Director at Buglife

Anyone who is out and about near a river is encouraged to look out for the adults sunning themselves on fenceposts. They have three distinctive bands across their wings, and February- March is the perfect time of year to spot them. New records are vital to increasing understanding and distribution of this species.

Members of the public can get involved by taking a photo and sending it to scotland@buglife.org.uk or tweeting it to @buglifescotland.More information is available on BugLife's survey flyer available Here

To see the original Scottish Natural Heritage article this is based on please click here. Photo credits: Gus Jones and Stewart Taylor.

Adult Northern February red stoneflies basking on the top and one side of a wooden fence post.

 

New Brown Trout Discovered at Loch Laidon

A new type of brown trout has been discovered at Loch Laidon in Perthshire. Researchers used systematic sampling techniques and DNA analysis to identify four types of brown trout living in the loch that are genetically, ecologically and morphologically distinct from one another.  

The deep water, bottom feeder or 'profundal benthivore' is new to science. Similar quartets have been observed in other species such as the Arctic charr, but never for brown trout. The profundal benthivore is paler than the other trout in the loch, and has much larger eyes and mouth.  

The findings present exciting possibilities about the diversity of freshwater lakes in the Northern hemisphere. 

'Findings such as those for Loch Laidon may well be the tip of a biodiversity iceberg in Scottish and other northern lakes, the true size of this iceberg will only become clear once we study more lakes using methods such as those we employed'. - Professor Verspoor.

The study was conducted through the Rivers and Lochs Institute at UHI Inverness College by Professor Eric Verspoor, Mark Coulson, Ronald Greer and David Knox. The paper was published in the journal Freshwater Biology and can be accessed online here.

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