Research group Citizen Science

FLOW: Fließgewässer erforschen - gemeinsam Wissen schaffen

Contacts Partners Funding Publications

Short description

The project FLOW aims to investigate the potential of Citizen Science for ecological and ecotoxicological stream monitoring. We invite citizen groups (e.g. members of environmental organisations and anglers clubs, high school students from grades 9-12 and other interested groups) to investigate the ecological status and pesticide contamination of streams and small rivers in their vicinity.

The participating citizen scientists receive training and equipment to collect standardised data on

  • stream morphology  (including meandering of the watercourse, flow diversity, substrates in the stream bed, riparian vegetation, surrounding land use)
  • physical-chemical water quality (point-by-point measurements of nutrient concentrations, oxygen content and water temperature, ion conductivity, pH)and benthic invertebrates (i.e., aquatic insects and insect larvae, mussels, snails and worms), to determine the pesticide concentrations at the stream sampling sites using the bio indicator SPEARpesticides

The FLOW project is led by Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e. V.) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ Leipzig (Departments of Ecosystem Services and Systems Ecotoxicology). To carry out the Citizen Science trainings and fieldwork, we are working in close cooperation with the ‘environment buses’ (Umweltmobile) of the Saxonian Foundation for Nature and Environment (LaNU).

The FLOW monitoring will complement the German national stream monitoring programme (KGM) organised by the UFZ-Department System-Ecotoxicoloy and the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA).

In an accompanying dissertation, Julia v. Gönner (in cooperation with Jonas Gröning, UFZ-department System-ecotoxicology) deals with the following questions:

  • To which extent can trained citizen scientists collect valid data on the ecological condition and pesticide contamination of streams, and how can the Citizen Science data quality be improved through training and guidance?
  • Which effects does the FLOW project have on water-related ecological knowledge, -attitudes and behavioural intentions of the participating citizen scientists?
  • How can Citizen Science data best be integrated into official monitoring databases?

For more information you can visit our project website (in German).


Julia von Gönner

Phone: +49 (0)341 97 33150



  • Prof. Dr. Matthias Liess, Dept. System-Ecotoxicology (UFZ Leipzig)
  • Anna-Katharina Klauer, Saxonian Foundation for Nature and Environment (LaNU)

External Partners
  • German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA)


  • Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU)
  • Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)