Course Dates


30th May - 2nd June
Four Day Aquatic Inverts Course

Aquatic Invertebrate Course Information

Welcome to the pages of my site for students on one of my Flatford courses.
If you have not applied for a course and would like information on costs etc.
please click on the Field Studies Council logo to the left.

These pages give students some internet links which may provide useful background information prior to attending one of my courses. Extra information on the course, which is not in the FSC leaflet, is also available here. More content may be added in due course so please revisit from time to time.

Having attended one of the courses you will receive a password to visit the download section where you can obtain useful documentation and software for future studies.

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Please choose between the section links below


Aquatic invertebrate life encompasses many thousand species and there are very many books dealing with specific groups, such as mayflies, leeches, beetles etc. For almost every group there are dedicated books dealing with their identification, far too many to list here.
It is for that reason that the books listed below are broader in scope and hence most relevant to the beginner

  • S Pawley, M Dobson & M Fletcher: SP 67 A Guide to British Freshwater Macroinvertebrates for Biotic Assessment, Freshwater Biological Association

  • M. Dobson, S. Pawley, M. Fletcher & A. Powell: SP 68 Guide to Freshwater Invertebrates, Freshwater Biological Association

  • PS Croft: A Key to the Major Groups of British Freshwater Invertebrates, Field Studies Council

  • Helen Mellanby: Animal Life in Fresh Water, Chapman & Hall

  • M Greenhalgh & D Ovenden: Collins Pocket Guide Freshwater Life, Harper Collins

S Pawley, M Dobson & M Fletcher: SP 67 was published in October 2011 and thus is very much an up to date guide to identifying freshwater invertebrates to family level. It is 80 pages long and covers all the families usually needed for biotic assessment in the UK. More detailed information is available on the FBA Publications website.

M. Dobson, S. Pawley, M. Fletcher & A. Powell: SP 68 was published in November 2012 and again is very much an up to date guide to identifying freshwater invertebrates to family level. It is 216 pages long and is a larger, more comprehensive guide than SP67. More detailed information is available on the FBA Publications website.

Croft was published in 1986 but will still enable you to identify to group level, or taxon, made more useful by being relatively cheap and also available for purchase at the Flatford centre. It is also often available via the public libraries.

Mellanby is older and out of print but may be available through the public library system or second hand. It still contains a wealth of relevant information coupled with good illustrations and copies will be provided for use during the course.

Greenhalgh & Ovenden is a good general book which will help your pre course knowledge but it does contain some mistakes, several out of date species names and, covering only 900 species, is no substitute for specialised keys to the individual taxa.

Having improved in general identification of aquatic invertebrates you will then move on during the course to look at the identification of certain taxa (groups) to species level. Each taxon has specific keys of which there are too many to list here, though these will be available during the course. Even within a particular taxon there are sub-groups specialising in certain parts of the aquatic habitat. It is for that reason that the following is worth a look:

  • Marjorie Guthrie: Animals of the Surface Film: Naturalists’ Handbooks 12, Richmond Publishing Co.

This gives a good overview of the air / water interface, a part of the aquatic environment surprisingly often overlooked. This is despite the fact that much can be seen and many invertebrates identified at least to group level with only a pair of binoculars without getting wet at all. The book also contains some keys to species level and is also reasonable in price. Again available from the Flatford centre and good natural history bookshops.

Let me also stress that it is not essential that you read or have your own copy of any of the above. They are merely included for those that wish to do some preparatory work. The course is designed to let each improve his or her own existing knowledge and to learn from each other in a stimulating and friendly environment.

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September 16, 2016 21:07September 16, 2016 21:07