It was exciting to hear that our abstract was accepted for an oral presentation at this conference dedicated to aquatic plants. The research presented attempted to explain the decline in diversity of emergent aquatic plants in the Upper Lough Erne area, Northern Ireland, UK and related change to landscape connectivity. This presentation was supported by NERC through my two postdoc projects, Lake BESS and Hydroscape.
BESS – Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services Sustainability – was a £15M 2011-2017 research programme funded by NERC, the UK research council concerned with the natural environment. This conference was a wrap up event co-organised with the BES, the British Ecological Society and hosted by the Water Research Institute at Cardiff University.
It was a great opportunity to present results from our Lakes BESS project, my first postdoc, and interact with a fun bunch of researchers with similar interests. It was also a chance to learn about the tremendous research advances in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem services achieved by BESS researchers and others.
The most thought-provoking talk was delivered by Kai Chan from the University of British Columbia, Canada. He defended ideas published in his 2016 PNAS paper:
Chan et al 2016. Why protect nature? Rethinking values and the environment PNAS 113 (6) 1462-1465. doi:10.1073/pnas.1525002113
His talk aimed to demonstrate that relational values drive biodiversity and ecosystem services protection, in addition to the commonly accepted intrinsic and instrumental values of nature.
Was the audience convinced? His talked certainly sparked great interest and numerous questions. For sure there is an empty gap to be filled around the classic divide between protecting the environment for its intrinsic value or for very utilitarian reasons. This simplistic intrinsic-instrumental value scheme is simply not sufficient anymore.
However, I remain to be convinced ‘relational values’ completely fill this gap – and even I remain to fully comprehend what is meant by ‘relational values’ – a notion I am not familiar enough with, as an ecologist.
The other outstanding talk I would like to highlight here is that of Elena Bennett from McGill University, Canada. She demonstrated with practical example from work carried out by her lab how ecosystem services can inform multifunctional landscape management.
She also finished her talk by reminding us about the “importance of the contributions of both nature and human action to the provision of services”, i.e. the natural environment does not simply provide us with what we need, quite the reverse ecosystem services also strongly depend on us working with nature, in a co-production.
Many other contributions could be mentioned here, including a whole session dedicated to ecological resilience. Our Lake BESS presentation was well received judging by the positive comments people shared.
My talk title was: Landscape connectivity is important for lake ecosystem function and biodiversity and I am pleased to share slides from the introduction and conclusion:
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.
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.
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.
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.
It has been a very busy summer and autumn for Lake BESS hence a reduction in post on this website. Lake BESS 2014 activities culminated in a meeting in UCL attended by most of us. We had a special guest, Geoff Philips, now honorary fellow at Stirling University, who is bringing exceptional expertise in water chemistry and in the functioning of the Broads system. He was also the only one of us remembering to take a picture! – thank you Geoff for coming and for sharing this picture:
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).