Our second site has been on the Little Chess where the River Chess Association have gradually been introducing in-channel deflectors to increase flow variability over a number of years. Previous water vole surveying has shown that there is a healthy water vole population in this stretch of the River Chess, and they could benefit from an expanded area of river habitat suitable for them to inhabit. We are surveying here to record the habitat that is developing around the deflectors, and to record how the new fencing (see below) alters the riverbank vegetation over the coming years.
Another exciting aspect also being conducted by our citizen scientists is assisting in the assessment of emergent contaminants, which involves taking a sample of the river water from different locations along the Chess and sending them to Imperial College, London, to be analysed. This information will be vital in understanding the concentration of certain chemicals and therefore any potential risk they pose to wildlife.
Finally, in some positive news, highlighting the health of the River Chess, our Smart Rivers citizen scientists first benchmarking results are in. They show that May was a good month for Riverfly communities with only a few areas of the Chess seeming to be suffering from critical pressures. Lets hope this result is maintained when reassessed in the Autumn.