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Volunteers needed for river wildlife surveys

Riverfly volunteers learn to survey insect numbers

West Cumbria Rivers Trust is appealing for volunteers to monitor river insect numbers at sites in the River Derwent catchment area, to help monitor river health and give early warning of water pollution incidents.

Riverflies are at the heart of the freshwater ecosystem and are commonly referred to as the ‘canary of our rivers’ as their tolerance to changes in environmental conditions makes them a powerful indicator of water quality. Populations are affected by factors including pollution, habitat diversity, water level and flow rate. Monitoring numbers enables major pollution events to be detected quickly and reported to the Environment Agency.

Volunteers are needed to do monthly surveys of riverflies and other freshwater invertebrates from April to September. After an initial training session on Saturday 13 July in Keswick, the surveys will take around two hours each month and can be done at times that suit each volunteer. People volunteering need to be able to walk around in a river, kneel on a riverbank and submit data online.

Philippa Chadwick, Project Officer at West Cumbria Rivers Trust, said: “Riverfly monitoring is a proven and powerful way of spotting water pollution incidents so our team of volunteers will play a vital role in maintaining our local rivers.”

The project is part of the Anglers Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (ARMI), a citizen science project using trained volunteers to conduct surveys. Participants sample invertebrates, identify and count eight target groups and apply a scoring system based on invertebrate numbers. Volunteers will be trained in recognising different species and helped to pick a site they want to survey. The data submitted will be used by the Riverfly Partnership, the Environment Agency, and local volunteers.

Places on the training day are limited and need to be booked in advance by contacting Philippa on [email protected] or 017687 75429.

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