Talk at the London Freshwater Group March 18th 2016

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.

LFG Spring Meeting Programme

And a link to the Group’s website.

Workshop in the Broads

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.

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Second post-doc on freshwater biodiversity

From January 1st 2016, I will start working as a post-doctoral researcher on the newly funded project Hydroscape, one of NERC’s highlight topics.

Hydroscape is led by Dr Nigel Willby at the University of Stirling and is interested in the importance of interactions between connectivity and stressors for freshwater biodiversity.

From   https://hydroscapeblog.wordpress.com/about/   :

“Hydroscape is a four-year project that started in December 2015 and is funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). It aims to determine how stressors and connectivity interact to influence biodiversity and ecosystem function in freshwaters across Britain. While stressors such as nutrient pollution and climate change drive ecological degradation, connectivity between freshwater habitats is a major force behind both dispersal of stressors and biodiversity. Currently, the implication for freshwaters of future changes in stressor intensity and in connectivity levels across Britain are poorly understood. Hydroscape will significantly improve this understanding and therefore inform the work of organisations engaged in waterbody restoration, biological conservation, the control of invasive species and diseases of wildlife and humans, at the international, national and local level.”

My main focus within Hydroscape will be on the “Distribution of biodiveristy within the landscape” and how connectivity affects biodiversity distibution, connectivity being a measure of potential for dispersal.

Update on Festuca altissima in the Porter Valley, Sheffield, UK

Very good news from the population of Festuca altissima, Wood Fescue, at Forge Dam, Porter Valley, Sheffield, UK. For the first time since 2013, many plants flowered this year.

The flowering status of this population prior to 2013 is not known, in 2013 and 2014 the counts were zero and in October 2015, I observed 13 flower heads. This is a fantastic increase, likely to be the result of the conservation efforts by the Friends of Porter Valley.

I reported in a previous post how they cleared the site from encroachment by cherry laurel, Prunus laurocerasus. I really hope to report similarly good news in a years time and if the management proves successful in the longer term, we ought to consider reducing even further the cherry laurel on this bank in order to promote Wood Fescue at the site.

Pictures of Festuca altissima, wood fescue, at Forge Dam, Porter Valley, Sheffield, UK, with inflorescences – apologise for the quality of the photography, it was a windy day! Wood fescue is the scruffy looking grass, by the way.

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

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

Workshop and Seminar about Upper Lough Erne’s satellite lakes

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.

Workshop Announcement: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Upper Lough Erne’s satellite lakes

We are organising two events in Northern Ireland to share our results with local stakeholders.

  • A workshop Tuesday November 24th 2015, from 6:45pm at Waterway Ireland HQ,  Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.
  • A lunch time seminar Wednesday November 25th 2015, 12.30 – 13.30, NIEA HQ,  Belfast.

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.

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Fermanagh is the happiest place in the UK!

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.

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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!