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The River Laboratory

River Laboratory Aerial

The River Laboratory, located in the small village of East Stoke in Dorset, is the Freshwater Biological Association’s second site and was established in the late 1960’s primarily to conduct research on rivers. Situated close to the River Frome, England’s southernmost chalk stream, the River Lab estate includes several separate buildings with a large number of offices and laboratories for freshwater biological research as well as around 3 hectares of wet meadow, 5 hectares of Fen and Carr woodland, and some 4km of the River Frome which is preserved for freshwater biological research and teaching purposes.

The main building consists of 49 rooms split between offices, laboratories, storage areas and meeting rooms. The Farmhouse complex consists of a further 21 rooms, and is again a mixture of offices, labs and storage areas. In addition there are the Fish Block (4 rooms), a specialist freshwater library, the garage and the workshop areas and on-site the student accommodation.

The River Lab also boasts a number of unique experimental facilities which are described below. The River Lab is also regularly used for training courses and events. For further information either follow the links in the sections below or email

For full address and location details about both FBA sites please visit the Our Sites page.



Conference Facilities

Conference Buffet at the River Laboratory

The FBA has a large Conference Room that is regularly used for both internal and external business meetings, conferences, events, workshops and training courses. Accommodating up to 100 people the Conference Room is equally suitable for small and large workshops and meetings and can be configured in a variety of formats to suite your needs.

The room is also ideally suited for practical courses and field studies as it has direct access to the grounds, local countryside and 4km of the nearby River Frome and Millstream which are ideal for field work.

If you wish to hire the Conference Room contact:

For further information see: Conference Facilities


On-Site Accommodation

FBA River Lab Accommodation

A 4-bedroom self-catering student cottage is available at the River Lab for visiting volunteers, students and researchers to stay at the River Lab at competitive rates. 

Students and volunteers: £16.50 per night (inclusive of VAT)

Non students: £21.50 per night (inclusive of VAT)

The student cottage is heavily used at certain times of the year so it is advisable if you can to make a booking well in advance of your planned visit.

For enquiries please email the River Lab administration team at:

Also see: On-Site Accommodation 



FBA River Laboratory Library

The River Laboratory Library is a satellite of the larger Windermere Head Office Library, and together these comprise one of the largest and most comprehensive sources of published and unpublished material on fresh waters in the world with 2.2 kilometres of shelving and over 400,000 catalogued items.

The FBA collection of information on freshwater science, built up over 80 years, is probably the world's finest Library on freshwater science, covering all aspects of freshwater ecology, phycology, microbiology, invertebrate taxonomy and ecology, sediment and water chemistry, aquaculture, fisheries management, pollution and hydrology. The River Laboratory Library is especially rich in information on rivers.

Please contact for further information on our library and archive facilities.

Organisations Based Here

Organisations based at the River Lab

As well as being the southern home for FBA staff, the River Laboratory also hosts several other organisations on site, many of which share our interest and passion for freshwater biology. These include Bournemouth University, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the River Communities Group of Queen Mary University of London.

For a full list of current organisations based at the River Lab please visit the page: Organisations Based Here






Facilities Available to Rent

Facilities at the River Lab to Rent

Whilst owned by the FBA, the River Lab is a multiple occupancy site and from time-to-time space becomes available to rent, typically including offices and laboratories.

The FBA operates a fully serviced tenancy model and in addition to standard offices supplies a range of high quality services to its tenant organisations including several high speed internet lines (up to 100Mb), specialist laboratories and access to experimental equipment and facilities.

For a full list of all rooms currently available to rent please visit the page: Facilities Available to Rent




River Frome and Millstream

River Frome Group Science days

The FBA owns fishing rights to some 4km of the River Frome and most of the Mill Stream in the village of East Stoke. The River Frome is ideal for field visits, school trips, student projects and research. Clean gravels, excellent water quality, and a myriad range of water life including Kingfishers, Otters, Water Voles, Salmon and countless mayflies and other invertebrates make the River Frome a joy to visit and study.

The Millstream being smaller than the Frome, is ideal for easy access and study by school groups of all ages and is complemented by its close proximity to the FBA buildings and facilities.

For further details visit: River Frome and Millstream



Experimental Channels

Experimental Channels at the River Laboratory

The Freshwater Biological Association own seven gravity-fed experimental stream channels, or ‘mini-streams’ at the River Laboratory. These are used for a wide range of experiments on freshwater biology.
The majority of the channels are in use by scientists from Queen Mary University of London who are currently investigating the influence of organic and inorganic fine sediment on macroinvertebrate community composition. The channels are also ideally suited to studies of flooding and droughts, particle size distributions and flow rates on both benthic (surface dwelling) and hyporheic (sub-surface) macroinvertebrate communities.

Further information: Experimental Channels



Global Warming Ponds

FBA River Laboratory Global Warming Ponds

The global warming ponds are a specialist scientific facility owned by the Freshwater Biological Association and used by scientists from several universities to conduct research on the effects of global warming on freshwater ecosystems.

The tanks are in pairs, one of which is at ambient temperature, while the other is artificially warmed by between 2 and 4 °C. Each tank supports a range of plant, invertebrate and small fish species, together with algae and microorganisms. These small enclosures or ‘mesocosms’ provide near natural pond conditions in which temperature can be realistically manipulated and the effects on the ecosystem can be examined.

Further information: Global Warming Ponds


Up and Downwelling Facility

Hyphorheic Research at the FBA

Everyone is familiar with the longitudinal movement of water along the course of a river, but water can also flow vertically upwards and downwards through the streambed. These vertical movements of water are thought to be important for the plants and animals that live in streams and may influence:

  • Microbial bio-films
  • Meiofauna and macroinvertebrates
  • Aquatic phytobenthos and macrophytes
  • Salmonid fish egg survival

The Up and Downwelling Facility makes artificial up and downwelling zones to enable these effects to be investigated.

Further information: Up and Downwelling Facility


Fish Counter

River Lab Fish Counter

The Freshwater Biological Association own a fish counter on the River Frome in Dorset. The Fish Counter is heavily used by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (who own and maintain the electronics of the counter) in their long-term Salmon monitoring work on the River Frome. Data on adult Salmon migration through the River Frome are collected by a resistivity counter that monitors the electrical resistance of the water and when fish passes by the system records a count.

See the FBA page: Fish Counter

For further information on Adult Salmon counting on the River Frome please also visit the following Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust page: Adult salmon counting on the River Frome



FBA Fluvarium

The Fluvarium is a running water aquarium where river water from the Mill Stream (part of the River Frome) is directed through two substantial glass-sided channels within a purpose built building.

The Fluvarium building permits unique access to an ‘experimental river’ where complex scientific equipment, including sensitive electronics, can be brought into close proximity to a real river, but under the protection of a substantial concrete building with a glass roof.

For further information see the page: Fluvarium





If you wish to make enquiries about any of these facilities please email and one of the FBA team will be delighted to help you with your enquiry.

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