British rivers’ wildlife

This video is called Mayflies.

From Wildlife Extra:

Britain’s urban rivers bounce back

Insects increasing in urban rivers

July 2012. Urban rivers throughout England and Wales have improved dramatically in water quality and wildlife over the last 20 years. That’s the conclusion of one the largest studies of national trends in river health ever undertaken.

Mayflies and stoneflies on the increase

After decades of pollution, typically from poorly treated sewage and industrial waste, rivers in or near Britain’s major urban areas are regaining insects such as mayflies and stoneflies that are typical of fast-flowing, oxygen-rich waters. The range of invertebrates found has also increased, on average, by around 20%.

Industrial decline, tighter regulation and improved wastewater treatment

Researchers from Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences carried out an independent analysis of data supplied by the Environment Agency using almost 50,000 samples from thousands of rural and urban locations. The team puts the general improvement down to industrial decline, tighter regulation and improved wastewater treatment over recent decades.

Drought is a danger

The recovery has not been universal, however. Rivers in some rural upland areas – such as Wales and parts of northern England – appeared to deteriorate slightly. The team is now investigating these trends further. Another important finding was that drought years reversed the recovery – at least temporarily.

Dr Ian Vaughan, lead author of the study said: “These important results show how benefits to river biodiversity – the huge array of species that live in our rivers – have arisen from investment and long-term restoration intended largely for other ‘river ecosystem services’ such as drinking water and sanitation.”

Co-author, Professor Steve Ormerod, added: “While some pollutants are still problematic, there is no doubt that this is a major success story that shows what can be achieved by effective environmental regulation. These are very large improvements not only for river ecosystems, but for the many people who live, work and play along their banks everywhere from Burnley to the Black Country or from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff.”

Head of Catchment Management at the Environment Agency, David Baxter, said: “High quality environments promote wellbeing and creativity, so improvements in rivers are important for wildlife, people and the economy. It is great to see this independent analysis confirm that urban rivers are recovering, but there is still more work to do. We’re working with farmers, businesses and water companies to reduce pollution and improve water quality and we have plans to transform more than 9,500 miles of rivers in England and Wales by 2015.”

A paper describing the study appears in the current issues of the prestigious international journal, ‘Global Change Biology’.

One of London’s lost rivers, the Quaggy, has been rescued from subterranean obscurity by an award winning restoration scheme. Its return has transformed what were once featureless playing fields into a watery haven for wildlife and scooped its rescuers the prestigious Living Wetlands Award, run jointly by the RSPB and the Chartered Institution of Water and Environment Management (CIWEM).

Like many of the capital’s ancient waterways, the River Quaggy was increasingly channelled along man-made drains and through culverts beneath the ever-growing city. For years, a section of the river was lost in a tunnel under Sutcliffe Park in Greenwich, until a review of flood defences prompted a dramatic revival in its fortunes.

More details here.

Not all British freshwater news is good news.

From Wildlife Extra:

Endangered Freshwater pearl mussel stronghold decimated

Freshwater pearl mussel facts

The Freshwater pearl mussel is one of the longest-lived invertebrates known – individuals can survive for over 100 years.
Freshwater pearl mussels can grow up to 15cms in length, and take 10-12 years to reach sexual maturity.
Freshwater pearls can be seen on many portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, who reigned from 1558 to 1603.
Illegal pearl fishing remains a major threat to the species, as does habitat destruction and pollution.
Around half the world’s population of Freshwater pearl mussels are in Scotland

Call for public enquiry

July 2012. Wildlife charity, Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust, is calling for a public inquiry into the devastating loss of Freshwater pearl mussels in Cumbria.

The largest and healthiest population of Freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera) in England has been almost completely destroyed. Water levels in the outflow from Ennerdale Water Reservoir in the River Ehen fell to such low levels that the water became hot and oxygen concentrations dropped to dangerous levels. Up to 90% of the pearl mussels in the affected area were killed.

4 thoughts on “British rivers’ wildlife

  1. Pingback: Rare Dutch grebes and ducks | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Bee-killing pesticides on trial? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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