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River Habitats

Learning Objectives

Most students will learn to:

  • To measure the effects of river flow on the biodiversity of the fauna
  • Use keys to identify different river plants and animals
  • Use different sampling techniques to collect fauna and measure varying abiotic factors
  • Appreciate the distinctiveness of the river ecosystem o Understand how life cycles are linked to the seasons o Understand the interdependence of communities
  • Create food chains and webs based on the living things discovered

Key words/phrases

Adaptation, kick sample, identification, habitat, environment, fauna, flora, population, community, niche, food web, ecosystem, diversity, species, pollution, nitrates, pH, indicator species, energy flow, interspecific competition, diversity index, biotic and abiotic factors.


Centre staff will welcome your group and describe the day’s programme, learning objectives, and the health and safety issues. (10 mins)

½ Day Course Programme

  • Digital slide showing the different animals that might be found and discussion of their varying adaptations (10 mins)
  • Question: Will there will a difference in diversity in the fauna dependent on the speed of the river flow? (10 mins)
  • Demonstrate equipment, flow rate meter, pH, nitrates testing (10 mins)
  • Walk to River Meden (10 mins)
  • Demonstration of how to dip the different zones in the river: Surface, open water, river bed, vegetation on banks (10 mins)
  • Study site 1: Slow moving water (25 mins)
  • Study site 2: Fast moving water (25 mins)
  • Back to the centre to get changed (10 mins)

Detailed activity sheets can be found in the Pond and River Studies curriculum material. Copies available at the centre.


Back at the Centre the group will reflect on their day and consider how well the learning objectives have been met (5 – 10 mins).

Safety Considerations

Weather Conditions and clothing

Some wellies are available at the Centre but please request that students are dressed warmly and have suitable waterproof outerwear. Activities will take place in all but the most severe weather conditions. The centre teacher will contact the group leader if conditions are unsafe for the visit to continue.

Even though the river is shallow the students invariably get wet feet, so spare socks and trousers should be brought.

Equipment supplied

Nets, trays, ID keys, observation pots, hand lenses, clipboards, recording sheets, nitrate sticks, pH paper, first aid kit

Equipment needed from school

Sun cream if required, wellies

Other Information

The actual programme may vary depending on the number and needs of pupils, length of visit and weather conditions.