The chalk-stream environment

Research paper by A. D. Berrie

Indexed on: 01 Nov '92Published on: 01 Nov '92Published in: Hydrobiologia


Chalk is a very pure and porous form of limestone. Water percolates down through the rock to form aquifers which overflow as springs forming chalk streams which receive little surface runoff. Passage through the rock is relatively slow and smooths out irregularities in rainfall and stabilises the water temperature. As a result the streams tend to have a regular annual hydrograph with a relatively small difference between winter and summer flows and with no spate conditions; and the temperature range in the streams remains closer to the annual mean than in rivers receiving more surface runoff. The water is calcareous with a pH of 7.4–8.0 and an ample supply of plant nutrients. The streams support diverse and productive communities of plants and animals and the restricted temperature range is particularly suitable for the growth of brown trout.