Welcome to the Canal & River Trust’s Great Nature Watch. This year we’re asking you to take a trip to your local towpath and tell us all about the creatures you see there.
This year we’re paying particular attention to damselflies and dragonflies as we think that the wet winter could have a lasting impact on them. Fluctuating river levels and fast currents are known to wash away dragonfly larva (or nymphs) and as larva live underwater for up to three years, our unprecedented floods may have a long-term effect on their populations.
Peter Birch, group environment manager for the Canal & River Trust, explains: “Dragonflies, and their sister damselflies, flourish in clean water which is rich in bankside vegetation, such as reeds. This makes them a fantastic indicator of the health of a canal or river.
Impact on invertabrates
“While this year’s floods have had an obvious impact on larger animals, birds and fish, we are also particularly concerned with the impact on invertabrates, which form the foundation stones of a healthy water environment. We would expect to see an increase in numbers of mosquitoes and midges which prefer stagnant and isolated water, but we may also see a drop in the numbers of dragonflies emerging this spring.
“By taking part in the Great Nature Watch, you can help us monitor numbers of dragonflies, damselflies, and in fact, all species living on our canals and rivers over the coming years.”
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