RIVPACS (River Invertebrate Prediction and Classification System)

RIVPACS (River Invertebrate Prediction and Classification System) is a statistical model which enables the user to estimate the macroinvertebrate community expected at high quality (“reference”) running water sites using information on their environmental characteristics. The model consists of a categorization of the reference sites in its database into a number of discrete community types.

By measuring the environmental characteristics for a new site of interest, the user can predict the probability of membership of each community type, and hence the overall “reference” macroinvertebrate community at that site.

This is often known as the expected fauna for a site, and generally corresponds to reference condition under the European Water Framework Directive (WFD).

If a macroinvertebrate sample is taken at the new site, using the RIVPACS standardised sampling protocols, the observed fauna can be compared with the expected fauna and discrepancies between the two can be used to assess the ecological status of that stretch of river. Often this comparison is made in terms of one or more metrics which summarise the community composition, rather than the raw community data, in which case the comparison is termed an Observed/Expected (O/E) Ratio, or an Environment Quality Index (EQI) in WFD language.

  • Use the links in the right-hand column to find out more about RIVPACS, including how to access the software.

A book published in 2000 presents an account of developments in predictive bioassessment systems for classifying and monitoring fresh waters, based on macroinvertebrates. Our History of RIVPACS page provides further information.

`Assessing the biological quality of fresh waters: RIVPACS and other techniques', edited by John F. Wright, David W. Sutcliffe and Mike T. Furse.

"Assessing the biological quality of fresh waters: RIVPACS and other techniques", edited by John F. Wright, David W. Sutcliffe and Mike T. Furse. Published by the Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside, June 2000. ISBN 978-0900386-62-6. 400 pages. Price £16 softback, £40 hardback (including p&p).