Wanted: Committed Citizen Scientists to Help Monitor the Health of the River Foss by Kick Sampling

The River Foss Society is now part of a Citizen Science project, working in partnership with the Environment Agency, the University of York, St Nicks Environment Centre and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to monitor the entire river catchment for chemical and biological water quality, the presence or absence of Water Vole, Otter and Mink, the improvement of bankside vegetation management, etc.

An important part of this project involves regular biannual sampling of the macroinvertebrates, those small, unnoticed creatures that are a food source for fish, birds and mammals, help to maintain water quality by feeding on and breaking down organic matter and are also incredibly useful indicators of pollution.

This is where kick sampling comes in. We need teams of two or more people to sample a site or sites along the river, twice a year in spring and autumn but more often if you’re keen, to provide information on the biological quality of the river, to update this information over the coming years and, hopefully, record improvements in the river’s health over time but also identify where pollution is entering the river. We are currently sampling 13 sites on the main river and one on a tributary.

Kick sampling involves one of the team getting into the river (we’ve chosen sites that have relatively easy access and we only sample when river levels are low enough to be safe), kicking the river’s substrate and catching the dislodged creatures in a net. The animals found are then identified and counted and from what we find we can assess the biological health of the river at that site using biological indices.

Full training will be given in the correct way to kick sample, the identification of the animals found and how to use them to assess water quality.

If you would like more information or would like to get involved in this really important work, please contact Barbara_Hilton@msn.com. I look forward to hearing from some budding citizen scientists as this is a real opportunity for you to help assess and monitor the health of your local river and, with the current state of our rivers, they need all the practical help they can get.