Freshwater ecology is the study of the relationship between freshwater organisms and their environment. This includes the study of streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, reservoirs and some wetlands.

Freshwater ecosystems provide us with many valuable services. They purify our drinking water, supply irrigation for agriculture, recycle nutrients, help stem the severity of floods and droughts and support fisheries and recreation. They face many threats, however, including:

  • pollution from pesticides and fertilizers
  • climate change
  • habitat loss
  • drainage
  • invasive species
  • dam construction
  • over-use of water

To sustain good water quality and ecological health demands wide-ranging, intensive research on how freshwaters respond to these threats and how they improve in relation to management and restoration measures.

CEH work on freshwater ecology

Projects

CEH carries out freshwater ecology research at all its sites, conducting pioneering research on the ecological functioning of lake and river ecosystems. Long-term monitoring is an important component with flagship freshwater observatories across the UK.

We also undertake research at national, European and international scales, often in inter-disciplinary collaborations with CEH colleagues, universities, government agencies and industry. Examples include:

Monitoring sites

Research Facilities

Contacts

Edinburgh (Laurence Carvalho)

Lancaster (Stephen Maberly)

Wallingford (Francois Edwards)

Watch a stunning video of some freshwater organisms sampled during CEH's lake monitoring programme

 

Innovation in Plant Biosecurity 2017
Conference organised against the backdrop of the Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain, released in 2014
Derwent water in the English Lake District
Sharing new developments in lake research, regulation and management
microplastic samples from the thames
Study finds microplastics in tributaries of the River Thames derived from road-marking paints and other manmade sources
Borrowdale, Lake District. Photo by Andy Sier
Integrating data, models and scientific knowledge on natural capital to support research and decision-making
State of Nature 2013 and State of Nature 2016 report covers
Trends and biases in biological records
SIL2016 conference banner
Attending the International Society of Limnology (SIL) congress
Ceratium hirundinella, a dinoflagellate phytoplankton
Microscopic findings from Windermere sampling
Snowdrops
Major new study published in Nature

Pages