Biology and Ecology

The streams and rivers in the Rideau Valley watershed are home to a variety of plants and animals.

RVCA staff collect information on the physical conditions of the watershed — vegetation, wetlands, shorelines, land uses. We also look at fish communities and benthic invertebrates. We look see how aquatic and terrestrial creatures interact with their environment. All this information is used to create a picture of the conditions of our streams, lakes, rivers and overall watershed. In turn, this information will set the management direction for the future.

Information is compiled and summarized in RVCA catchment reports and subwatershed reports.

Stream Characterization

The RVCA studies streams throughout the watershed. Using the Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol (OSAP), we follow a series of standardized methodologies for identifying sites, evaluating benthic macro-invertebrates, fish communities, physical habitat and water temperatures in wadeable streams. The OSAP provides standardized methods that ensure data repeatability.

These monitoring protocols are being implemented by the City Stream Watch Program participants and by staff at the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. Information is compiled and summarized in RVCA catchment reports and subwatershed reports.

Land Classification

The RVCA initiated a land cover classification program in 2009 to gain a better understanding of the spatial distribution of nine different land cover classes across the watershed.

Our current land cover dataset reflects 2008 imagery, but is being updated using 2014 photography. Through heads-up digitizing (following industry standard techniques), updates to this data are based on visual interpretations of high-resolution (20 cm) aerial photography (2008 and 2014 DRAPE imagery).

Both datasets are used for mapping and analysis for the City Stream Watch Program and in catchment and subwatershed reports. With data representing two different points in time, the ability to monitor and identify changes across the landscape has become a primary focus of RVCA’s land cover classification program.

Headwater Monitoring

Headwater drainage features need to be managed and protected to ensure that critical functions are not lost. RVCA staff collect field data on headwater features including flow regime, geomorphology, water quality, vegetation, organic inputs, invertebrates and fish habitat. This data is then used to classify the stream into one of five habitat categories for the stream reach. Management recommendations are then applied to the stream reach based on the assigned classification through the development process (i.e. plan review).

City Stream Watch

The City Stream Watch Program has been collecting data on Ottawa streams since 2003.

  • conduct stream assessments (physical and biological characteristics)
  • sample for and identify benthic invertebrates
  • participate in fish sampling
  • record stream temperatures
  • remove invasive species
  • assist in stream rehabilitation projects


Contact Us

Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
3889 Rideau Valley Drive
Manotick, Ontario K4M 1A5

613-692-3571, 1-800-267-3504


Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Member of: conservation ontario