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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  September 2008  /  Another busy year of fieldwork for the ECRC scientists

Another busy year of fieldwork for the ECRC scientists

Scientists at the Environmental Change Research Centre have had another busy year in the field, visiting over 200 lake and river sites, mostly in the UK but some as far afield as Botswana.

Another busy year of fieldwork for the ECRC scientists

In early spring Dr Helen Bennion undertook sediment coring at lakes in eight Sites of Special Scientific Interest in northern England. The work, funded by Natural England, aims to develop palaeoecological techniques to define reference conditions for sites which, in turn, will assist in the setting of conservation objectives and management goals.

Throughout the year Dr Carl Sayer has been measuring aquatic macrophytes at three shallow lake sites in Norfolk. These data will help to develop our understanding of plant dynamics in these sensitive ecosystems. Carl has also been involved in meadow plant community surveys in the River Glaven catchment, also in Norfolk. Both of these projects are linked to PhD and MSc studies at UCL.

In Northern Ireland, Jorge Salgado has been collecting lake sediment for macrofossil analysis at 4 sites in the Upper Lough Erne system. This involves use of the 'Big Ben' corer which is a specially adapted piston corer for collecting large volumes of sediment. This work, for Jorge's PhD, aims to investigate the influence of disturbance, nutrients and connectivity on changes in species populations with reference to metapopulation models.

As part of an ongoing DARWIN Initiative project 'Simulating potential future threats to biodiversity in the Okavango Delta', Dr Anson Mackay and Dr Tom Davidson spent several weeks in the Boro river area collecting algae, zooplankton, macrophyte and fish samples ... and avoiding hippos.

The UK Acid Waters Monitoring Network is a network of 22 freshwater sites across the UK that has been studied since the late 1980s and continues today to provide valuable data helping us to understand the effects of acidification. This year, Ewan and James Shilland, have carried out biological surveys at 20 of the sites including plant surveys, water sampling, diatom sampling and routine maintenance of temperature loggers and sediment traps.

As part of the 'Macro-invertebrate Classification Diagnostic Tool Development' project (aka WFD60) coring and macro-invertebrate sampling has taken place at over 30 sites in Galloway, Cumbria and Snowdonia. The aim of this project is too develop a tool that will allow the assessment of pressure from acidification on freshwaters using benthic macro-invertebrate assemblages. The project forms part of the UK's implementation of the EC Water Framework Directive.

The Open Air Laboratories Network (OPAL) is a partnership initiative that celebrates biodiversity, environmental quality and people’s engagement with nature. ECRC are leading the freshwater component and this year Dr Neil Rose and Dr Simon Turner have carried out comprehensive monitoring at 9 lakes across England and will carry on at three-monthly intervals.

Other work undertaken this year has included ongoing urban lake monitoring in and around London, aquatic plant survey and reservoir sampling at over 90 sites for the Environment Agency, continued work at Loch Laidon looking at grazing effects and acidification studies at Loch Maberry and Troutbeck. Needless to say, all of the work mentioned here is supported by a team of willing and able field assistants and laboratory staff at the Department of Geography without whom none of it would be possible.


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