Due to Covid-19 we have had to cancel this course, we hope you will find an event later in the year that you can attend.

Climate change has underlined the importance of monitoring freshwater ecosystems. This course is designed to help professional surveyors and amateur naturalists increase their understanding of the large and diverse group of invertebrates that inhabit our rivers and ponds. Illustrated talks and field excursions will demonstrate the latest practice in sampling methodology and preservation of specimens. Identification sessions will cater for both amateur and professional interests and needs.

Discussion of aquatic ecology and the life cycles of individual species will help develop an overview of freshwater ecosystems.

Samples collected on field trips, together with preserved specimens, will form the basis of laboratory workshops to develop identification strategies and improve your confidence in using keys to a level appropriate to your own needs, be this to family or species. You will be able to use a full range of published keys whilst course notes and copies of some unpublished keys will be provided for you to keep and use in any future monitoring work.

The field trips and lab sessions will enable you to build up species lists for the sites you visit. At the end of the course you will be shown how to use this data to calculate several biological indices which can be used to measure the conservation value of a freshwater site, prior to developing management strategies. You will also be given, and shown how to use, a copy of SAFIS, the analysis software written by the tutor. For any future survey work this will automatically calculate the relevant simply by typing in a species list. The software also provides distribution and habitat information and can help indicate incorrect identifications.

Tutor: Adrian Chalkley

Adrian Chalkley was a teacher for over 30 years and has been studying pond and river life for most of that time. He has been a member of the Freshwater Biological Association for 25 years and the Suffolk County Recorder for freshwater invertebrates for over 20 years. For information on Adrian’s wide-ranging interests in freshwater biology, take a few moments to visit his website at: www.boxvalley.co.uk

With the generous support of the Suffolk Biodiversity and Information Service, along with the Suffolk Naturalists Society, we are able to provide bursary funding for this course for those students who meet the criteria. For more information please go to Bursaries for Natural History Courses.


Bring a friend!

If you are attending a course at Flatford Mill at the sole occupancy price, we are offering a special rate for a friend or partner not enrolled on the course to also stay at £50 per night for dinner, bed and breakfast.

Please contact FSC Flatford Mill on 01206 297110 or [email protected] to book this offer.

Example Timetable

The course begins at 2pm on Monday and ends 4pm Friday. Days start at 9:30am and end at 9pm.

General introduction to equipment, keys etc. Initial microscope activities: Using the equipment and identification of invertebrate groups and certain common species. Dinner, preparation for Tuesday’s field trip.

Visit to a local farm with good ponds, collecting specimens. Use of keys and individual identification of collected specimens and / or provided vouchers. Individual tuition throughout. Dinner and preparation for Wednesday’s field trip.

Visit to two local rivers, kick sampling and specimen collection. Comparing lentic and lotic field work. Individual identification as Tuesday. Dinner. Group feedback / Q&A on the last two days, illustrated by the authors macro photographs and videos. Preparation for Thursday.

Practical guided session on dissection of genitalia for identification. Collecting plankton samples around the Mill, guided session on identification of Water Fleas using stereo and compound microscopes. Time allowed to continue identification of your own voucher specimens. Dinner. Databases, internet resources and those you will be given on the USB stick you should bring.

Concluding your own identification of collected specimens or preserved vouchers. Site Analysis from species lists; a review of methods and how to use the SAFIS software you will be given.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Full Board Accommodation
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport
  • Personal and Travel Insurance

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • Although all collecting equipment is provided many students prefer to bring personal items, such as a 10x or 20x hand lens for field use, a pencil and notebook.
  • For field work wellington boots will be needed to work in the water.
  • Health and safety equipment will be available from the Centre but you may wish to bring a personal pair of household rubber gloves and a bottle of alcohol based hand gel.
  • Further health and safety information is available before the course on the tutor’s own website (see below).
  • During the course you will collect and identify specimens and so it is well worth bringing tubes or other suitable containers in which to keep your own preserved, labelled vouchers.
  • In order to take away electronic copies of unpublished keys, course notes and software as well as a large collection of papers and other information you will need to bring a memory stick for download.

Recommended Reading

There are too many keys dealing with species level identification of the various invertebrate groups to list here. The books below are broader in scope and hence more relevant to the beginner. The first three are particularly recommended in order to get to grips with family level identification of a wide range of freshwater invertebrates and far more accurate than general naturalists’ guides.

Freshwater Biological Association Publications www.fba.org.uk

S Pawley, M Dobson & M Fletcher - SP 67 A Guide to British Freshwater Macroinvertebrates for Biotic Assessment

M. Dobson, S. Pawley, M. Fletcher & A. Powell - SP 68 Guide to Freshwater Invertebrates

Field Studies Council http://www.field-studies-council.org/

PS Croft - A Key to the Major Groups of British Freshwater Invertebrates

The two FBA keys are up to date and either are highly recommended with SP68 being the more comprehensive of the two. Croft was published in 1986 but is still very useful and less expensive. The following is out of print but is good preliminary reading and can often be found secondhand:

Helen Mellanby - Animal Life in Fresh Water Chapman & Hall

To get an idea of the range of specialist keys available visit the FBA and FSC websites listed above and follow the links to publications. In addition a page of useful links is available on Adrian’s website, together with any further information about his courses which will be updated from time to time.

Please visit: http://www.boxvalley.co.uk/ and follow the link to ‘FSC Courses’.

And/or any other books you are accustomed to using.  Recent editions are best.