Lake BESS preliminary results presented in Liverpool

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.

methods in the fieldOur 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:

  • Extensive botanical work, recording aquatic plants from the open water and the marginal zone, and
  • Collecting water samples that are later analysed in the lab for phytoplankton abundance, concentration of nutrients such as phosphorus and water chemistry in general.

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.

phtoplanktonThe 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!

Workshop on Biodiveristy and Ecosystem Services Resilience

The BESS resilience workshop on June 18th and 19th was a great success with over twenty attendees, mostly BESS researchers but also JNCC and Welsh government representatives.


We also had two special guests, Volker Grimm and Hanna Weise from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, Leipzig, Germany, who presented fascinating background information about ecosystem resilience. Volker was a pioneer in trying to understand how the notion of resilience can be applied in ecology and his 1997 seminal paper is worthwhile a read.

The first day’s discussions were focussed on defining resilience, while in the second day we explored the multiple ways that can be used to measure ecosystem resilience.

It was very enlightening to hear different researchers from different BESS projects explain how ecosystem resilience was relevant to their work. The diversity of opinion was absolutely overwhelming! To such an extent that after two days of lively discussion it became very difficult to produce a short summary or a take-home message.

There was however two important points most attendees agreed upon:

  • Resilience is a useful notion for their work
  • It will be worth pursuing our quest to understand ecosystem resilience after the meeting – and we are already getting organise to do so.

Understanding resilience, thresholds and tipping points: BESS Workshop, June 18-19, London

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.