Sampling event

VIS - Specific reference freshwater monitoring in Flanders, Belgium (post 2013)

Latest version published by Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) on 16 May 2024 Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)
Publication date:
16 May 2024
CC0 1.0

Download the latest version of this resource data as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) or the resource metadata as EML or RTF:

Data as a DwC-A file download 233 records in English (185 KB) - Update frequency: annually
Metadata as an EML file download in English (17 KB)
Metadata as an RTF file download in English (16 KB)


VIS - 'Specific Reference Freshwater Monitoring’ in Flanders, Belgium is a sample based dataset published by the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO). The original database is described in Brosens et al. 2015 ( This dataset contains over 19,000 occurrences sampled between 2013 and 2023 from 45 locations per species in inland rivers, streams and canals in Flanders, Belgium. The dataset includes 4 target species (Cobitis taenia, Cottus perifretum, Lampetra planeri and Rhodeus amarus), as well as a number of non-target species. The data are retrieved from the Fish Information System (VIS), a database set up to monitor the status of fishes and their habitats in Flanders and are collected in support of the Water Framework Directive, the Habitat Directive, certain red lists, and biodiversity research. Additional information, such as measurements, absence information and abiotic data are available upon request. Issues with the dataset can be reported at

Length and weight measurement data of the individual fishes, absence information, occurrence data since 2013, as well as abiotic data of the sampling points (pH, temperature, etc.) are not included in the Darwin Core Archive and are available upon request.

To allow anyone to use this dataset, we have released the data to the public domain under a Creative Commons Zero waiver ( We would appreciate however, if you read and follow these norms for data use ( and provide a link to the original dataset ( whenever possible. If you use these data for a scientific paper, please cite the dataset following the applicable citation norms and/or consider us for co-authorship. We are always interested to know how you have used or visualized the data, or to provide more information, so please contact us via the contact information provided in the metadata, or

Data Records

The data in this sampling event resource has been published as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A), which is a standardized format for sharing biodiversity data as a set of one or more data tables. The core data table contains 233 records.

1 extension data tables also exist. An extension record supplies extra information about a core record. The number of records in each extension data table is illustrated below.

Event (core)

This IPT archives the data and thus serves as the data repository. The data and resource metadata are available for download in the downloads section. The versions table lists other versions of the resource that have been made publicly available and allows tracking changes made to the resource over time.


The table below shows only published versions of the resource that are publicly accessible.

How to cite

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

Van Thuyne G, Brosens D, Breine J, Westra T (2024). VIS - Specific reference freshwater monitoring in Flanders, Belgium (post 2013). Version 1.6. Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO). Samplingevent dataset.


Researchers should respect the following rights statement:

The publisher and rights holder of this work is Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO). To the extent possible under law, the publisher has waived all rights to these data and has dedicated them to the Public Domain (CC0 1.0). Users may copy, modify, distribute and use the work, including for commercial purposes, without restriction.

GBIF Registration

This resource has been registered with GBIF, and assigned the following GBIF UUID: 106df9be-33cc-42c4-bcdf-5aaf5ecd7ec6.  Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) publishes this resource, and is itself registered in GBIF as a data publisher endorsed by Belgian Biodiversity Platform.


Samplingevent; ecosystem functioning; fish-based index of biotic integrity; fish distribution; freshwater; open data; River Scheldt; River Yser; River Meuse


Gerlinde Van Thuyne
  • Originator
  • Point Of Contact
Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)
Dimitri Brosens
  • Metadata Provider
  • Originator
Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)/ Belgian Biodiversity Platform
Brussels Capital Region
Jan Breine
  • Originator
Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)
Brussels Capital Region
Toon Westra
  • Originator
Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)

Geographic Coverage

Flanders, Belgium

Bounding Coordinates South West [50.716, 2.608], North East [51.323, 5.875]

Taxonomic Coverage


Kingdom Animalia

Temporal Coverage

Start Date / End Date 2013-03-06 / 2023-11-10

Sampling Methods

Standardized sampling methods were used as described in Belpaire et al. (2000) and Van Thuyne & Breine (2010) and are specified in the dataset as dwc:samplingProtocol. Per water body, the same method was used for each sampling event. The default method is electric fishing, but additional techniques such as gill nets, fykes, and seine netting (variable sizes) were used as well. Electric fishing was carried out using a 5 kW generator with an adjustable output voltage of 300–500 V and a pulse frequency of 480 Hz. The number of electric fishing devices and hand-held anodes used depends on the river width (Belpaire et al. 2000). In riverine environments, electric fishing was carried out on both riverbanks in upstream direction. All fishes were identified to species level, counted, and their length and weight was measured (measurement data available upon request). Since 2013, electric fishing was carried out until depletion.

Study Extent In 2011, we made a sample for the monitoring of bitterling, small mud creeper, pond sculpin and brook lamprey within the framework of the Habitats Directive. For each species, we used a sampling frame consisting of all watercourses (divided into the strata Flemish watercourses, 1st order watercourses and 2nd order watercourses) where the species was caught in the past. We first checked how many monitoring points could be expected for each species and within each stratum in the reference monitoring network for the Water Framework Directive. We then selected additional monitoring points from the sampling frame via random sampling so that we obtain at least 45 monitoring points per species and so that there is a representative distribution of monitoring points across the different strata. We call these additional measurement points the compaction measurement network.
Quality Control Strict field protocols where used. The Manual for Application of the European Fish Index (EFI) (Fame consortium 2004) served as a guideline for electrofishing and was used in support of the EU water framework directive.

Method step description:

  1. Data was collected and imported in the VIS database by the INBO fishing team
  2. A specific SQL query was created to map the data to darwin core
  3. data is published through the INBO IPT to GBIF

Additional Metadata

Purpose The Fish Information System or VIS ( is a database created by the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) which is used to monitor the status of fishes and their habitats in Flanders, Belgium and to calculate the biotic integrity (Karr 1981, Belpaire et al. 2000, Breine et al. 2004, 2007, 2010) of fish assemblages. It contains data regarding occurrences, individual morphometrics, stocks, pollutants, indices, and non-native fish species. Sampling has been going on since 1992, the database model was designed in 1994 (Verbiest et al. 1994), the first database developed in 1996 (Verbiest et al. 1996), and the consolidated database set up in 2001. VIS is used for supporting NATURA 2000, an ecological network of protected areas in Europe and to calculate the EQR (Ecological Quality Ratio) in the framework of the EU Water Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC). Further, the database provides updated information for Flemish Red Lists of fishes and lampreys (Verreycken et al. 2014) and on the distribution status of non-native and invasive fish species. The data are also crucial in fish stock management and for reporting on the status of the European eel stock as required by the Eel Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) N° 1100/2007). This dataset is a standardized extraction of all inland water species occurrences from VIS.
Alternative Identifiers 106df9be-33cc-42c4-bcdf-5aaf5ecd7ec6