Getting involved in a citizen science project is a great way to learn more about your local environment. In the Evenlode we support the bi-annual Thames Water-Blitz but also have opportunities to get involved with more regular monitoring activities:
Wychwood Water Watchers: The ECP environmental monitoring hubs are complemented by a diffuse network of citizen scientists spread acrss the catchment, operating under the banner of the Wychwood Water Watchers. This group is run in partnership with the Wychwood Project and collects data on a monthly basis, monitoring sediment, river-flow, observational data and phosphate and nitrate levels. All of this data helps in monitoring the ecological status of our rivers and streams. Support from EarthWatch means volunteers are able to view and interpret their data on-line, through the Freshwater-Links site.
At some sites we are also carrying out Riverfly monitoring. Riverflies, along with other freshwater invertebrates, are at the heart of the freshwater ecosystem and are a vital link in the aquatic food chain. Riverfly populations are affected by many factors, predominately water quality, habitat diversity, water level and flow rate. Their common characteristics of limited mobility, relatively long life cycle, presence throughout the year and specific tolerances to changes in environmental conditions make them powerful biological indicators to monitor water quality, and are commonly referred to as ‘the canary of our rivers.’ Training was provided by the Severn Rivers Trust through the Riverfly Monitoring Initiative, and funding from the Wild Trout Trust enabled us to supply surveying kits at no cost for Evenlode surveyors.
If you are interested in hosting or participating in either of these initiatives please contact Wychwood@oxfordshire.gov.uk.
Thames Water-Blitz: Wild Oxfordshire and Earthwatch partner with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Freshwater Habitats Trust, the Environment Agency and catchment partnerships to carry out a biannual census of ecosystem conditions throughout the Thames River Basin, which the Evenlode catchment is part of. Watch a video about this filmed at Combe Mill. Follow the link to register for this event.