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Return to Scottish lochs

Research funding and studentship to explore recent change

Return to Scottish lochs

Dr Helen Bennion, Dr Carl Sayer and Dr Nadia Solovieva have been awarded a Scottish Natural Heritage/Scottish Environmental Protection Agency PhD studentship and a UCL IMPACT Award to explore Recent responses of freshwater Scottish lochs to changes in nutrient loading and climate. .

The project aims to build on a study of diatoms in sediment cores taken in the 1990s from 26 lochs by analysing the diatom record in new cores collected from a subset of those lochs to:

i)        Assess the degree of recovery in the lochs where nutrient loading has been reduced,

ii)       Identify whether the sites deemed to be minimally impacted remain so.

iii)      Evaluate the causes of change for those lochs exhibiting signs of enrichment or trajectories of change not seen previously, to determine shifts in wider ecosystem structure and function.

iv)      Detect any recent climate-driven changes in the ecology of deep, oligotrophic lochs.


In addition to diatom analysis, this project will involve analysis of plant macrofossils, Cladocera (water fleas), algal pigments and, where relevant, 13C and 15N isotopes at selected sites to assess trophic relationships and nutrient sources.

The study will provide assessments of long term trends, including the degree and rate of ecological change and recovery in Scottish lochs, vital for ensuring their sound management.

Outputs will help to target environmental measures, inform catchment plans and provide a better understanding of the consequences of climate change.

Interviews will take place for the studentship in early April with a view to a project start in September 2014.


Loch Awe

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