Citizen Science

Citizen Science

Citizen scientists are contributing to our knowledge of Chilterns chalk streams and monitoring the changes that are taking place.

Citizen science is the involvement of the public in scientific research – from community-driven surveys to global investigations.  It relies on an army of volunteers of all ages and abilities. So, whether you have skills and knowledge you’d like to share, or you’ve never collected data before and want to learn more, why not give it a go?

You don’t need any particular experience or qualifications to become a citizen scientist, just an interest in your local river. Full training is given and you will be supported by staff or members of local groups. Please contact us if you would like to find out more.

Riverfly Monitoring

Riverfly monitoring is carried out on a monthly basis. This citizen science survey uses the invertebrate life of the rivers as a measure of river health.

Water Vole Surveys

Water voleFull water vole surveys of the River Chess have been conducted at 2-yearly intervals since 2001. Between 2001 and 2003, a dramatic 97% decline in water voles was seen, this was attributed to mink dispersing along the watercourse and a mink control and habitat enhancement scheme was initiated. Following management there was a steady increase in numbers, until by 2011 the vole population recovered to its 2001 level. Find out what has happened since then in the latest survey report. Previous reports are available on request.

Find out more about the River Chess Water Vole Recovery Scheme

River Chess Water Vole Survey 2021


The ChessWatch project began in 2019, originally led by Queen Mary University of London, but now collaboratively led by the Smarter Water Catchment project since 2022.

We now have six water quality sondes at different points along the River Chess that have been recording different parameters including temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and much more.

Chess sonde data showing temperature differences in summer

Read more about this on our Smarter Water Catchment website or find our water quality data on the Water Quality Dashboard.

Chesswatch visitor survey results

Modular River Survey

MoRPh Surveyors, credit Paul JenningsWe are using Modular River Survey to track how restorations of different river sections have changed the biodiversity and hydrogeomorphology (physical shape and structure) of the River Chess, Ewelme Brook and Hamble Brook. Our volunteers are surveying before and after our interventions to record changes to vegetation, physical features and sediment within the channel and on the riverbanks.

Get in touch via if you would like to find out more.



Sesiment Source entering River CHess from Vale Brook
Fine sediment can be particularly problematic in chalk streams, causing infilling of gravels, poor oxygen exchange between surface water and upwelling groundwater, and preventing fish from spawning successfully.

MudSpotter is a citizen science technique helping us identify fine sediment entry points and sources inputs to the river, so that we can plan targeted mitigation actions.

Do get in touch via if you would like to find out more.


Chilterns ANOB

Other Volunteering opportunities

There are plenty of other ways to get involved in caring for your local river. Get stuck in with some practical conservation work or help your local river action group with events and lobbying work.