The River Communities Group has a long history of developing bioassessment methods. The River Invertebrate Prediction And Classification System (RIVPACS), the standard Water Framework Directive-compliant tool used by governmental monitoring agencies throughout the UK (EA, SEPA, NIEA), was developed by the Group. The Group continues to promote and improve the RIVPACS-approach to bioassessment. The latest version of RIVPACS (RIVPACS IV) is incorporated in the UK environment agencies’ new web-based River Invertebrate Classification Tool (www.rict.org.uk). The RIVPACS-approach is now being successfully applied to routine monitoring of wadeable streams in the USA, Canada and Australia, streams and lakes in Sweden, and streams in the Czech Republic. Furthermore, RIVPACS-type tools are being developed in Spain, New Zealand and most recently in regions of China. The Group continue to be at the forefront of the development of bioassessment methods and diagnostic reporting indices.
The River Communities Group has considerable expertise in developing and refining field protocols for sampling biological communities in a range of water body types, e.g. deep non-wadeable rivers, lake shores. The Water Framework Directive demands that a greater range of freshwater habitats, not just wadeable streams and rivers, receive the protection and management care of governmental environment agencies. This means that their condition must be regularly monitored using reliable, accurate and practical methods. Our Group has extensive experience in assessing which methods are most appropriate for different freshwater habitats. We examine:
The Group also has considerable experience in developing robust diagnostic indices of stress for use in reporting and interpretation of biomonitoring results e.g. AWIC. We have pioneered empirical approaches to index development that can be applied to a range of different stressors acting on a variety of different freshwater habitats.
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