Batch microcosms containing various water types (de-ionized and river water with or without sediment), incubated at a range of temperatures (5-37 degrees C), were used to facilitate a comparative evaluation of the significance of such variables and their interactions upon the collective and individual survival of four species of thermophilic Campylobacter. All variables significantly influenced (P < = 0.031) population decay rates. Minimal decay for the group was identified at low temperatures (5 degrees C) in river water, i.e. nutrient-containing microcosms. Collective decay rates within river water microcosms were significantly decreased (P = 0.03) from those observed in de-ionized water, particularly at environmental temperatures (5 and 15 degrees C). However, the increased nutrient levels observed in sediment-containing microcosms did not significantly (P = 0.41) reduce population decay rates. Overall, Camp. jejuni populations demonstrated the most resilience to the environmental stressors evaluated, with the exception of 15 degrees C where Camp. lari was the most persistent. Campylobacter coli and Camp. upsaliensis demonstrated comparable survival characteristics but were less resilient than Camp. jejuni and Camp. lari. These observations identify the suitability of water systems as a reservoir and medium for Campylobacter infection, and potentially identifies Camp. jejuni and Camp. lari as the main protagonists of water-mediated campylobacteriosis.