This project has established a novel, DNA based method to monitor and assess the make-up of diatom communities in rivers. This new approach will mean we can analyse a lot more samples more quickly.
We collect data on animal and plant life in the river to help us to understand, assess and manage the health of the environment. Diatoms, with around 2800 UK freshwater species recorded, are a type of microscopic algae used alongside other organisms to assess the ecological status of a river.
This project is part of a wider programme of research by the Environment Agency and other UK agencies to explore and develop DNA based methods for ecological assessment. This work will help us to approach the development of DNA based methods for other organism groups and water body types. Examples of other work include assessing the feasibility of using DNA based methods for fish in lakes, macroinvertebrates in rivers and lakes, and for the monitoring and surveillance of non-native invasive species.