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

 

Windermere from Wansfell
Promoting evidence-based lakes management
Daphnia, a member of the crustracean group known as the Cladocera
Predation beneath the surface
Linlithgow Loch and Palace
CEH hosts international task team
Black darter dragonfly photo: Ross Newham
Record sightings to support study and conservation
Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme logo
Long-term monitoring of contaminant levels in selected species of predatory birds
Jet d'eau and Lac Leman in Geneva
Impacts of climate change on freshwater ecosystems
A swan on Loch Leven on a sunny winter's day
Database brings together more than 70 scientists from 20 countries
Pair of arctic charr
Process-based understanding of how lakes function, generating knowledge for lake managers
CEH scientists carrying out restoration research at a lake in Scotland
CEH scientists will present at the Meeting in Granada, Spain

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