Please follow the link below for more details about the London Freshwater Group meeting, March 18th 2016. A programme packed with fab freshwater talks, including one about Lake BESS by Ambroise Baker.
And a link to the Group’s website.
Lake BESS research on the importance of water connectivity for healthy shallow lakes in the Upper Lough Erne, Northern Ireland and in the Broads, England, was presented to the Broads stakeholders yesterday. The event hosted by the Broads Authority.
This was an opportunity to discuss how our research will be translated into actions in the Broads where multiple major restoration projects are happening.
Carl Sayer gave an inspirational talk comparing the lake ecology and aquatic vegetation of the Upper Lough Erne region and The Broads.
We are inviting any interested Broads stakeholder to take part to our workshop on Lake Connectivity, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in the Broads, England.
At this occasion, we would like to share the findings of our Lake BESS research project and we will have a special focus on the Broads. We are keen to share our work with local stakeholders working on and around lakes in the area so our research can be useful to anyone concerned.
Please get in touch for further details and to register – go to the bottom of this page and send us a message or ambroise.baker [at] ucl.ac.uk
Following the previous post, this is just to let you know that our trip to Northern Ireland was very successful. It gave us a chance to discuss our research results with many partners, stakeholders and members of the public. The interest we met makes us hope that our research will find direct applications on the ground.
We would like to thank the many people who made this trip possible at the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Waterways Ireland, the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency and Queen’s University Belfast.
We are organising two events in Northern Ireland to share our results with local stakeholders.
For both events there will be a presentation of our results and plenty of time for Q&As and discussion.
We would like to share our research findings with local stakeholders working on and around Upper Lough Erne’s satellite lakes so our research can be useful to those most concerned.
Please let us know if you would like to come by email: ambroise.baker [ at] ucl.ac.uk or with a message at the bottom of this page; and do not hesitate to forward this invitation to anyone you think could be interested.
The BBC reported today that Fermanagh is the happiest place in the UK according to a recent survey by the ONS. Is there a link with the exceptional freshwater biodiversity levels we found during our work in the Upper Lough Erne region, part of Co. Fermanagh? Our Lake BESS work is only a preliminary step towards answering such fundamental question: a whole new research agenda lies ahead of us to better understand the value of nature and ecosystems in what is often referred to as coupled human-environment systems.
Here is a short summary of the talk we gave yesterday, at the Aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems conference held at the University of Liverpool, where we asked the question: Does connectivity between lakes enhance biodiversity resilience to eutrophication in the Upper Lough Erne area and in The Broads? A talk based on the same research was delivered in Baltimore, USA for the 100th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America – see this post.
Our data was a compilation of lake surveys in both lake districts and for two time periods: the 1980 and recent time (thanks you to all our partners who were willing to share their data, by the way!). Each lake survey comprises of:
Our data shows that nutrient pollution drives ecosystem functioning in both regions and during both time periods. This reminds us on the importance of good policies to protect freshwaters while maintaining thriving agriculture.
The situation with biodiversity is a bit different as it appears to be influenced both by the local conditions (lake size and shape, nutrients status) and landscape-wide connectivity. One main difference between the Upper Lough Erne lakes and the Broads is that flood connectivity in the Upper lough Erne is a major factor structuring in the aquatic plant communities there. Does this induce greater resilience? remains a pending question we are working on.
All these results are being written up into a scientific article, so please get in touch if you’d like to discuss or report them!
The 100th ESA annual meeting was a great experience! It was an opportunity to present our work, of course, but what I really enjoyed was the breadth and depth. The breadth of ecological topics represented was exceptional – speak about biodiversity!- and the depth of the talks and of the understanding within each subfield was phenomenal.
I would like to highlight three researchers and their talks. There were many other remarkable ones but these actually tie well together in what I would call a list obstacles for our societies to deal effectively with the biodiversity crisis and with ecological issues in general.
Stephen Jackson from the University of Arizona, USA, presented five major challenges for ecology. Among those, three could be labelled as governance challenges within ecological research – whether within academic institutions or in the way academics interacts with decision makers and land managers.
Two others were more directly related to our science. Stephen notably put an emphasis on the difficulties related to defining nature in a context of ever-changing conditions – and in a context of omnipresent human pressure.
This last point was further developed by Jens-Christian Svenning from Aarhus University, Denmark. It was divided into three categories: disequilibrium dynamics, novel ecosystems and trophic cascade. These three ecological phenomena remind us how much ecosystem function in a complex way. As a result of this complexity, ecosystems have futures that are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to predict.
Jens-Christian presented several compelling examples to illustrate his talk and I would refer anyone interested to his publication list.
Finally, Shannon Hagerman, from the University of British Columbia, Canada, provided a wider framework explaining the origin of these institutional and ecological challenges.
Shannon’s work focusses on the values underlying expert opinion in biodiversity science and claims that today’s novel impact created by human activities not only threatens biodiversity in a direct way (as we all understand it) but it also deeply questions the values that have hitherto guided conservation actions.
It can be postulated that this crisis of values within the field of conservation at large creates obstacles for us to deal effectively with the biodiversity crisis itself and with ecological issues in general.
This is a very simplified synthesis of these three talks, that certainly does not do them justice, and the opinions expressed are mine. Ambroise, Sheffield, UK, August 27th 2015
In a collaboration with Adrian Newton’s team in Bournemouth (BESS project on “Dynamics and Thresholds of Ecosystem Services in Wooded Landscapes”), Lake BESS is co-organising a BESS-funded workshop on resilience to take place June 18-19 in London.
There is more information about the workshop and how BESS people can take part here.
This will be a unique occasion to develop ideas around resilience, biodiversity and ecosystem services and a good chance to network with like-minded people who think resilience is an important notion to better communicate our science.
The Lake BESS team has just spent four full days on the water to collect bryozoans statoblasts from 14 different Norfolk broads. You will find more information about our work on bryozoans in this previous post.
The aim of this sampling is to gather evidence regarding how connectivity between lakes influences the movement of aquatic biodiversity, in particular bryozoan population genetics.
We were extremely privileged to be shown around by Geoff Philips, who greatly facilitated this field work with his knowledge of the area and of the people managing The Broads – at the Broads Authority, the Norfolk Wildlife trust, etc.
Last summer, we collected similar samples from the Upper Lough Erne region, Northern Ireland. With this trip in the Broads we completed the sampling of bryozoans for our project. We used an Ekman grab from our boat to retrieve lake surface sediment, i.e. oozy mud.
But collecting the mud is only the first step of the sampling. Back on the shore, our bryozoans expert Beth screened the sediments through a microscope to pick out individuals statoblasts (the dormant phase of bryozoans measuring less than 1 mm in diameter). These individual statoblasts are going to be sent off for their DNA to be extracted.
We are expecting to find out that isolated broads have bryozoans population with more distinct genetics than those from broads connected to the river systems. But we are really not sure how the gene flow within the Broads will compare with that experienced within the Upper Lough Erne region, so we are looking forward to get our results – and we are hope to be surprised!
Many thanks for the many people who helped making this sampling possible!