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Identifying freshwater organisms

The following guides are available to help you to identify the organisms that you have seen or caught.

Invertebrates
For a general guide to all freshwater invertebrates in the UK, see:

Dobson M., Pawley S., Fletcher M. & Powell A. (2012) Guide to Freshwater Invertebrates. Ambleside, Freshwater Biological Association. 

For a short guide that concentrates on the large invertebrates used in assessing habitat quality in fresh waters, see:

Pawley S., Dobson M. & Fletcher M. (2011) Guide to British Freshwater Invertebrates for Biotic Assessment. Ambleside, Freshwater Biological Association.

Specific groups

The following guides are available:

Arachnida
Gerecke, R. (1994). Freshwater mites (Hydrachnellae). An identification key for the genera of Hydrachnellae known from the Palearctic region, with an introductory survey on the water dwelling mites. Lauterbornia, 18, 1-84.

Bryozoa
Wood, T.S. & Okamura, B. (2005). A New Key to the Freshwater Bryozoans of Britain, Ireland and Continental Europe, with Notes on their Ecology. Scientific Publication No. 63. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 113pp.

Porifera
Eggers T.O. & Eiseler B. (2007). A key to the freshwater Spongillidae (Porifera) of central and northern Europe. Lauterbornia, 60, 1-53.
Text in German; key in German and English.

Rotifera
Pontin R. (1978). A Key to the Freshwater Planktonic and Semi-Planktonic Rotifera of the British Isles. Scientific Publication No. 38. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 178pp.

Tardigrada
Morgan, C.I. & King, P.E. (1976). British Tardigrades. Keys and Notes for the Identification of Species. Linnean Society Synopses of the British Fauna. New Series No. 9. Academic Press, London. 132pp.

Turbellaria: flatworms
Reynoldson, T.B. & Young, J.O. (2000). A Key to the Freshwater Triclads of Britain and Ireland, with Notes on their Ecology. Scientific Publication No. 58. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 72pp.

Young J.O. (2001). Keys to the Freshwater Microturbellarians of Britain and Ireland, with Notes on their Ecology. Scientific Publication No. 59. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 142pp.

Annelida: leeches and true worms
Brinkhurst, R.O. (1971). A Guide for the Identification of British Aquatic Oligochaeta. Scientific Publication No. 22. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. [Can be accessed online: see FBA website for details]

Elliott, J.M. & Mann, K.H. (1979). A Key to the British Freshwater Leeches, with Notes on their Life Cycles and Ecology. Scientific Publication No. 40. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 72pp.

Timm, T. (2009). A guide to the freshwater Oligochaeta and Polychaeta of northern and central Europe. Lauterbornia, 66, 1-235.
Phylum Mollusca: snails, limpets and mussels

Gastropoda
Macan, T.T. (1977). A Key to the British Fresh- and Brackish-Water Gastropods, with Notes on their Ecology. Fourth Edition. Freshwater Biological Association, Scientific Publication No. 13. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 46pp.

Bivalvia
Ellis A.E. (1978). British Freshwater Bivalve Mollusca. Linnean Society Synopses of the British Fauna. New Series No. 11. Academic Press, London. 113pp.

Killeen, I., Aldridge, D. & Oliver, G. (2004). Freshwater Bivalves of Britain and Ireland. OP82. Field Studies Council, Shrewsbury. 119pp.

Crustacea: shrimps, crayfish, water fleas, copepods, ostracods and allies
Branchiopoda
Scourfield D.J & Harding J.P. (1966). A Key to the British Species of Freshwater Cladocera, with Notes on their Ecology. Third Edition. Scientific Publication No. 5. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 61pp.

Copepoda
Fryer G. (1982). The Parasitic Copepoda and Branchiura of British Freshwater Fishes: a Handbook and Key. Scientific Publication No. 46. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 87pp.

Gurney, R. (1933). British Fresh-Water Copepoda. Ray Society, London.

Harding, J.P. & Smith, W.A. (1974). A Key to the British Freshwater Cyclopoid and Calanoid Copepods, with Ecological Notes. Second Edition. Scientific Publication No. 18. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 56pp.

Malacostraca
Gledhill, T., Sutcliffe, D.W. & Williams, W.D. (1993). British Freshwater Crustacea Malacostraca: a Key with Ecological Notes. Scientific Publication No. 52. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 176pp.

Dobson, M. (2012). Identifying Invasive Freshwater Shrimps and Isopods. Freshwater Biological Association (free download: see FBA website for details)

Insects

Megaloptera & Neuroptera: alderflies and lacewings
Elliott, J.M. (2009). Freshwater Megaloptera and Neuroptera of Britain and Ireland: Keys to Adults and Larvae, and a Review of their Ecology. Scientific Publication No. 65. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 71pp.
 
Collembola: springtails
Hopkin S.P. (2007) A Key to the Collembola (Springtails) of Britain and Ireland. OP111. Field Studies Council, Shrewsbury. 245pp.

Ephemeroptera: mayflies
Elliott, J.M. & Humpesch, U.H. (2010). Mayfly Larvae (Ephemeroptera) of Britain and Ireland: Keys and a Review of their Ecology. Scientific Publication No. 66. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 152pp.

Plecoptera: stoneflies
Hynes, H.B.N. (1977). A Key to the Adults and Nymphs of the British Stoneflies (Plecoptera), with Notes on their Ecology and Distribution. Third Edition. Scientific Publication No. 17. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 92pp.

Odonata: dragonflies and damselflies
Cham, S. (2007). Field guide to the Larvae and Exuviae of British Dragonflies, Volume 1: Dragonflies (Anisoptera). The British Dragonfly Society, Peterborough. 80pp.

Cham, S. (2009). Field guide to the Larvae and Exuviae of British Dragonflies, Volume 2: Damselflies (Zygoptera). The British Dragonfly Society, Peterborough. 76pp.

Hammond, C.O. (1983). The Dragonflies of Great Britain and Ireland. Second Edition. Harley Books, Colchester. 116pp.

Hemiptera: true bugs
Savage, A.A. (1989). Adults of the British Hemiptera Heteroptera: a Key with Ecological Notes. Scientific Publication No. 50. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 173pp.

Savage, A.A. (1999). Keys to the Larvae of British Corixidae. Scientific Publication No. 57. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 173pp.

Trichoptera: caddisflies
Edington, J.M. & Hildrew, A.G. (2005). A Revised Key to the Caseless Caddis Larvae of the British Isles, with Notes on their Ecology. Scientific Publication No. 53. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 134pp.

Wallace, I.D., Wallace, B. & Philipson, G.N. (2003). Keys to the Case-Bearing Caddis Larvae of Britain and Ireland. Scientific Publication No. 61. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 259pp.

Wallace, I.D. (2006). Simple Key to Caddis Larvae. OP105, Field Studies Council, Shrewsbury. 64pp.

Coleoptera: beetles
Friday, L.E. (1988). A Key to the Adults of British Water Beetles. Field Studies 7, 1-151. [Can be accessed online: see website for details]

Foster G.N. & Friday L.E. (2011). Key to Adults of the Water Beetles of Britain and Ireland (Part 1) Second Edition. Royal Entomological Society Handbook Vol.4, Part 5. Shrewsbury, Field Studies Council. [Covers Gyrinidae, Haliplidae, Noteridae, Paelobiidae and Dytiscidae] 144pp.

Holland D.G. (1972). A Key to the Larvae, Pupae and Adults of the British species of Elminthidae. Scientific Publication No. 26. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. [Covers Elmidae] 58pp.

Diptera: true flies
Bass, J. (1998). Last-Instar Larvae and Pupae of the Simuliidae of Britain and Ireland: a Key with brief Ecological Notes. Scientific Publication No. 55. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 104pp.

Cranston, P.S. (1982). A Key to the Larvae of the British Orthocladiinae (Chironomidae). Scientific Publication No. 45. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 152pp.

Cranston, P.S., Ramsdale, C.D., Snow, K.R. & White, G.B. (1987). Keys to the Adults, Male Hypopygia, Fourth-Instar Larvae and Pupae of the British Mosquitoes (Culicidae), with Notes on their Ecology and Medical Importance. Scientific Publication No. 48. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 152pp.

Disney, R.H.L. (1999). British Dixidae (Meniscus Midges) and Thaumaleidae (Trickle Midges): Keys with Ecological Notes. Scientific Publication No. 56. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 128pp.

Rotheray, G.E. (1993). Colour Guide to Hoverfly Larvae (Diptera, Syrphidae). Dipterists Digest No. 9. Derek Whitely, Sheffield. 156pp.

Stubbs, A. & Drake, M. (2001). British Soldier Flies and their Allies. British Entomological & Natural History Society, Reading. [Covers Athericidae, Rhagionidae, Tabanidae and Stratiomyidae] 512pp.

Wilson R.S. & Ruse L.P. (2005). A Guide to the Identification of Genera of Chironomid Pupal Exuviae Occurring in Britain and Ireland (Including Common Genera from Northern Europe) and their Use in Monitoring Lotic and Lentic Fresh Waters. Special Publication No. 13. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside. 176pp.

 
 
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