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A strategic programme for NERC Lowland catchment research
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How to recognise a healthy river

Water meadow

Healthy water meadows with a diversity of plants and animals are an indication of healthy rivers

Most conventional biological assessments of the LOCAR rivers, based on the diversity and type of the animals and plants that live in them, would conclude that they are ecologically healthy. But LOCAR scientists identified significant changes taking place in stream beds which suggest that these rivers may not be as healthy as previously thought.

Salmon and trout eggs survive poorly, the rivers contain too many nutrients and their clogged-up beds emit significant quantities of gases such as methane and nitrous oxide not features of high quality river ecosystems. The river function and conventional assessments seem to be telling different stories and suggest we might need a new ecosystem-based approach to ecological assessment.

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