Chalk stream wildlife

CALM WATERS, EASY LIVING

Illustration of chalk stream habitat and characteristic species
Chalk stream habitat and characteristic wildlife, including brown trout, kingfisher and european eel

The stable, crystal clear, spring-fed waters of chalk streams are favourable conditions for wildlife of all kinds.

We all marvel at species that have adapted to extreme environments, but chalk streams are the opposite – they are undemanding habitats where plants and animals have it comparatively easy! Chalk streams are mild-mannered, not subject to the drama of big rises and falls in water level (because they are fed by an aquifer), or sudden changes in temperature (because the water is coming from underground). And there’s always plenty of nutrient to support food chains (because their waters are mineral rich).

This calmness and consistency of environmental factors means that plants and animals know where they are with a chalk stream, and many species take advantage of this stability. This makes them not only globally rare but also very biodiverse!

Here are some of the special plants and animals that make their home in these calm waters.

Birds:

Kingfisher

Grey Wagtail

Mammals

Water vole

Otter

Beaver

Crustaceans

White-clawed crayfish

Fish

Brown trout

European eel

Brook lamprey

Bullhead

Stone loach

Insects

Banded demoiselle

Riverflies

Plants

Water crowfoot

Water starwort

Watercress

 

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