Lake Connectivity, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Workshop in 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.

  • Thursday January 7th 2016 at the Broads Authority head quarters, from 11:30.

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

oulton Broad_aerial

Aerial phtograph of Oulton broad by Mike Page http://mike-page.co.uk/

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!

Sampling dormant bryozoan from lake mud! – a field trip around the Broads 12th-15th March 2015

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!

Pondweeds

Image

Pondweeds

The islands of Britain and Ireland have over 40 species or hybrids of pondweeds (genus Potamogeton). This diversity in pondweed is one of the highest in Europe with most European species being represented. Unfortunately local diversity and abundance of pondweeds have declined over the 20th Century, as a result of habitat destruction and pollution. The Upper Lough Erne region and The Broads are two areas of importance for the conservation of pondweed – but “what can we learn from these strongholds?” and “what measure could enhance their recovery nationally?” are questions we are trying to address part of the Lake BESS project. (Photo by Ambroise Baker: P. polygonifolius in full bloom).

Lake BESS new photographs

The Lake BESS website is being improved thanks to pictures taken by Ben Goldsmith and Tom Davidson (see Photo Credits) taken in Upper Lough Erne region and The Broads. We now have five stunning header pictures of lake landscapes and luxuriant aquatic vegetation.

These inspirational pictures were chosen to provoke thoughts on biodiversity, connectivity, ecosystem services and sustainability.

You will also note the exceptional aerial photographs of The Broads by Mike Page – visit his website for an aerial experience!

Speaking about pictures, we would like to set up a platform of exchange for anyone interested or concerned by the Upper Lough Erne region and The Broads. In particular, we plan to provide a space where to discuss photographs, whether old or recent, and life and activities around lakes in Upper Lough Erne region and The Broads.

So, watch this place and do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any picture to share or suggestion.