Aquatic ecology surveys and advice for all freshwater environments

Aquatic Ecology Surveys

Aquatic ecology surveys for rivers, lakes and streams including fisheries / fish ecology surveys, salmonid spawning and electro-fishing

Our aquatic ecologists provide freshwater ecological surveys for rivers, lakes and streams (pictured: Brown trout Salmo trutta)

We offer aquatic ecology surveys and services for all freshwater environments, with experience of operating throughout the UK and abroad.

Our ecological surveys are conducted in accordance with the latest industry standards and best practice, whilst adhering to our stringent health and safety protocols. We offer a multidisciplinary service drawing from our aquatic ecologists’ expertise in fisheries and fish ecology, macro-invertebrates, macrophytes, habitat surveying, water quality assessments and hydrographic surveying. Each of our aquatic ecologists is trained and accredited to work on or near water and understands the need for biosecurity, to prevent the spread of non-native invasive species.

With many years’ experience working in aquatic environments, we are well placed to provide cost-effective advice and to deliver the aquatic ecology survey services outlined below:

Freshwater Fish Ecology Surveys

Freshwater aquatic ecological surveys - including fish ecology, macro-invertebrate and macrophyte sampling and river / lake habitat surveys

Weir within river catchment - Carcinus provide fish passage assessments for a range of protected migratory species, including Atlantic salmon, lamprey and European eel.

Carcinus provides a wide range of fish ecology survey, monitoring and analysis services. Our fisheries scientists have many years experience in the collection of robust fisheries data from freshwater environments throughout the UK and abroad. Having an in-depth knowledge of fish ecology, behaviour and habitat requirements ensures that our surveys are designed to be scientifically robust, meeting regulatory and client expectations. Our fish ecology surveys can be targeted to species of interest and their key life stages. Species include migratory fish (Atlantic salmon, sea trout, lamprey, shad and European eel), bullhead and other coarse fish. 

Our fish ecology survey services include:

  • Electro-fishing (back-pack and bank-side);
  • Seine netting;
  • Fyke netting;
  • Fish rescue and translocation;
  • Catchment walkovers to assess salmonid spawning and lamprey habitat;
  • Protected species assessment (e.g., native crayfish, lamprey, shad, Atlantic salmon, bullhead, spined loach, European eel, freshwater pearl mussel etc.); and
  • Common Standards Monitoring (CSM) condition assessments in accordance with the requirements outlined in the JNCC CSM guidance for freshwater fauna.

Fisheries Habitat Surveys

Fisheries habitat walkover surveys to assess availability of key habitats within a river catchment

Surveyor undertaking fisheries habitat assessment survey - Our fisheries scientists undertake fisheries habitat walkover surveys to assess availability of key habitats and barriers to migration within a river catchment and support EIAs, Common Standards Monitoring (CSM) assessments and habitat restoration and enhancement.

Our fisheries ecologists undertaken fisheries habitat walkover surveys within river catchments and typically include the main river channel and any tributaries (including permanently wetted drainage areas that may be used as fish refuge).

Our fish habitat surveys follow standardised protocols and provide a quantitative assessment of the in-channel and riparian features as well as geomorphological features of interest relating to key life stages and habitats utilised for spawning, nursery and foraging. The technique provides an excellent means of delineating the total area of differing habitats available to a broad range of species and allows commentary to be made in relation to the quality and condition of the waterway in relation to the ecology of fish species such as salmonids, lamprey, a wide range of coarse fish, grayling and protected species.

Migratory fish obstruction caused by weir

A typical barrier to migratory fish species - Carcinus can undertake formal assessments of barriers to fish migration and provide advice in terms of mitigation and fish passage optioneering.

By using custom built fisheries habitat Geographical Information System (GIS) applications designed for efficient, robust and consistent field data collection, our aquatic ecologists can accurately and efficiently record and classify areas of fish habitats within a catchment. All field data is then quality assured and processed within GIS geodatabases to enabling us to provide high quality visual outputs, showing the classification and spatial distribution of habitat types, utilisation by key fish species and obstructions / obstacles to migration within a given catchment.

In addition to providing a broad assessment of fisheries habitat availability, the approach is also used to support Common Standards Monitoring (CSM) for Annex II species under the Habitats Directive such as river lamprey Lampetra fluviatilis, brook lamprey Lampetra planeri and sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus, allis shad Alosa alosa, twaite shad Alosa fallax, Atlantic salmon Salar salmo, bullhead Cottus gobio and spined loach Cobitis taenia when designated within a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Macro-Invertebrate Sampling and Analysis

Aquatic macro-invertebrate surveys - ecological surveys including kick sampling

Freshwater macro-invertebrate - Our freshwater ecologists provide macro-invertebrate surveys, taxonomic identification and reporting for both running and still water environments.

Our experienced freshwater ecologists deliver macro-invertebrate surveys for freshwater aquatic environments.

The community composition and abundance of macro-invertebrates within freshwater environments provides a valuable indicator to the health of a waterbody and its water quality. Aquatic macro-invertebrates are sensitive to a range of environmental pressures making them valuable indicator species and are used for classification of waterbodies under the Water Framework Directive (WFD).  Our aquatic ecologists employ standard sampling methodologies, following current best practice. 

All samples are analysed, identified and enumerated by experienced freshwater taxonomists to family or species level as appropriate. Standard indices and approaches are used to analyse data including for flowing waters the River Invertebrate Classification Tool (RICT), Biological Monitoring Working Party (BMWP) and Average Score per Taxon (ASPT) and for ponds and lakes the Predictive System for Multi-metrics (PSYM) for ponds and lakes.

Ecological Walkover Surveys

Our ecology staff undertake ecological walkover surveys within river catchments and at standing waters to identify, map and classify aquatic and riparian habitats that are utilised by priority species. Surveys are undertaken utilising the River Habitat Survey (RHS) classification system or Lake Habitat Surveys (LHS) as appropriate.

Our aquatic ecologists use Geographical Information System (GIS) software specifically designed for these surveys to facilitate efficient, robust and consistent data collection. Habitat features observed during surveys, including boundaries between different habitat, substratum features, water depth and flow profiles, vegetation (aquatic and terrestrial), riparian use, channel modifications and a description of any in-channel obstructions (e.g., log jams) are recorded. 

In addition to the ecological walkover surveys described above, Carcinus also provides catchment-wide pollution walkover surveys to identify, classify and map diffuse and point sources of sediment, nutrients, Faecal Indicator Organisms (FIO) and chemical contamination within a catchment.

Pragmatic and Proportionate

When planning our aquatic ecology field surveys, we always seek to ensure a pragmatic and proportional approach is taken and full consideration is given to the prevailing knowledge of baseline environmental conditions and the likely environmental impacts of a project. In this way, we deliver cost-effective aquatic ecological surveys that provide the necessary level of information needed to inform a robust environmental assessment and gain the approval of the statutory regulatory authorities.

Heath, Safety and Quality

River catchment walkover survey using River Habitat Survey RHS methods

Carcinus aquatic ecologist undertaking catchment walkover survey - Our specialist freshwater ecologists undertake ecological walkover surveys within river catchments and at standing waters to identify, map and classify aquatic and riparian habitats.

All our ecology surveys are delivered in accordance with our robust internal health, safety and quality management systems. Staff are fully trained and equipped with the necessary tools and equipment to undertake the tasks required in a safe and efficient manner. All activities are fully risk assessed and a process of continuous review and reassessment ensures that our activities are undertaken in the safest possible way whilst ensuring the highest quality outputs.

More Information

Please download our 'Freshwater Ecology' capability statement below:

If you require more information regarding our freshwater ecology survey capabilities and services, please contact us.

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