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.
We collected bags and bags of oozy mud, from which we are isolating the tiny bryozoans statoblast (less a 1 mm!), from which DNA will be extracted.
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!