Established in 2014, RammSanderson specialises in using biological indicators during freshwater sampling to monitor water quality and pollutant levels, ensuring comprehensive habitat health assessment. 

Monitoring Freshwater Habitat Health

Freshwater habitats are home to a large variety of macro-invertebrates, plants, and smaller organisms, such as Diatoms. 

These can be used as Biological Indicators during freshwater sampling, which serves to monitor water quality/pollutant levels across a long period. 

RammSanderson can perform both species sampling as well as conventional freshwater sampling to create a detailed picture of pressures that are impacting these freshwater habitats. 

All biological indicator freshwater sampling is done according to the relevant survey guidelines and best practices.

Freshwater sampling

Macro-Invertebrate Kick Sampling 

Macro-invertebrates comprise a wide variety of species which may have a lifespan of around 1-2 years. As such, macro-invertebrates can be used as biological indicators to monitor water quality over a much longer period than standard water quality measures.  

Kick freshwater sampling is a method of collecting macroinvertebrates from the riverbed. Macro-invertebrates are small aquatic insects that live in the channels of watercourses/water bodies. 

Just like other animals, macro-invertebrates have desired ranges of water quality and will not tolerate water quality outside of this range. Each one of the thousand different species has a slightly different tolerance rating, with sensitive species. Various methods are used depending on the size and nature of the reach. 

RammSanderson can undertake freshwater sampling and the generation of additional indices including:


Whalley Hawkes Paisley Trigg is a method for assessing river invertebrate communities, with each species getting a different pollution tolerance rating from between 1-10, with 1 species being very pollution tolerant and 10 species preferring cleaner waters.


First introduced in the 1980s and replaced in part by WHPT, this was the most widely used way to categorise macroinvertebrate communities.


Number of total taxa recorded.


Average score per taxa, to give an overall quality rating for the water body.


The community conservation index indicates how taxonomically rich the invertebrate assemblage is in the recorded water body.


Links macro-invertebrate presence to the prevailing flow conditions, with different species preferring different speeds of flow.


Similar to LIFE but refers to the sediment (siltation) present in a reach.

These methods are frequently used in freshwater sampling to identify the health and ecological integrity of aquatic ecosystems.

Freshwater Sampling Quality Assessment

The following indices are used in freshwater sampling to generate a WFD classification which can then be used as a comparison to other similar waterbodies, or used as a baseline to monitor the same watercourse over a period of time:


Diatoms are unicellular organisms that occur in oceans and waterways. Similarly to invertebrates, they can be used as biological indicators in freshwater sampling to assess stresses on freshwater ecosystems. 

However, with a life cycle of roughly 6 days, they are more useful at assessing fluctuations in pollution levels over a shorter period. Diatoms are scraped off cobble-sized rocks, often using toothbrushes. The liquid is then collected and sent off to a lab for analysis. 

RammSanderson can carry out these surveys and can assess the condition of freshwater using diatoms. 

Our surveys follow the guidelines stipulated in the Diatoms for Assessing River and Lake Ecological Quality (DARLEQ) guidance and can produce indices that can inform a WFD classification.


A Macrophyte is another term for an aquatic plant that may live in aquatic systems including rivers and lakes. 

RammSanderson can carry out Macrophyte surveys during our freshwater sampling services to WFD-UKTAG LEAFPACS2 methodology to enable assessment of pollution stresses to a waterbody. 

Macrophytes may live for several years and as such are a good indicator of the long-term stresses a waterbody might be under. 

Water Quality Sampling 

RammSanderson can undertake water quality analysis, including measures such as pH, alkalinity, dissolved oxygen, electrical conductivity, and temperature. 

The measures are biological indicator species. This may be needed to attain data for ecological baselines or can feed into biological indicator indices to get more accurate results. 

Why Choose RammSanderson for Freshwater Sampling? 

With over 20 years of experience, our licensed ecological experts conduct freshwater sampling and surveys employing methodologies aligned with industry standards such as DARLEQ and WFD-UKTAG LEAFPACS2 to ensure thorough assessments of freshwater conditions.

We have a proven track record of reliability and accuracy and understand the importance of ensuring sustainability and the protection of water-dependent wildlife.  

Freshwater sampling

RammSanderson has a team of experienced consultants ready to carry out Otter Survey and Mitigation Services. Get in touch today!