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Keep those river weeds — they are useful. 1978. In Biological Surveillance of river water quality. (Eds) H.A. Hawkes, J.G. Hughes, pp. 30—54. From the proceedings of Section K, jointly with Section D, of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Aston 1977. University of Aston, Birmingham.


The larger river plants, macrophytes, are sensitive indicators. River vegetation is influenced by pollution, topography, rock type, and various other factors. Once the vegetation expected with differences in these factors is known, pollution can be assessed from the macrophytes present. An 8-point pollution scale is being developed. Macrophytes are larger than most river animals, and they remain still, so can be easily seen throughout the summer. Monitoring pollution with plants is, therefore, quicker than monitoring with animals. However, invertebrates occur in a wider range of streams (e.g. very swift, and heavily shaded streams), and they have somewhat different habitat preferences. Macrophyte and invertebrate monitoring are complementary.