Freshwater Matters August2013


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Freshwater Matters August2013

  1. 1. Freshwater Matters What’s happening at the FBA? New key to European freshwater Diptera families Find it difficult to identify Diptera to family level? The use of mouthparts at the beginning of many keys to Diptera, as well as an unclear distinction between aquatic and terrestrial habits for many species, can cause problems for non- specialists identifying Diptera, even at family level. To address these, former FBA Director Mike Dobson has reviewed the existing keys to Diptera and developed a new key to European families, based on external morphology. Published in Freshwater Reviews (as reported in the last issue of Freshwater Matters), this review article is now available as a print copy, price £15 plus postage. For further details, visit the FBA online shop or FBA Publications webpage. Subscribers to Freshwater Reviews can view this article online here. A date for your diary - FBA AGM, 8 November 2013 This year, we are pleased to hold the FBA’s Annual General Meeting as part of the London Freshwater Group meeting on 8 November. The day’s proceedings will be held in The Flett Lecture Theatre at the Natural History Museum, London, with the FBA AGM scheduled for 12:15. Details of the FBA AGM will be circulated to FBA members later this month and available on the FBA website. There are still a small number of slots available for speakers in the scientific programme: if you are interested in giving a talk, please contact Carl Sayer ( The full programme, once finalised, will be advertised on the FBA website ( and via Freshwater Matters. There will be a modest attendance fee (£20 standard, £10 students, including lunch), payable on arrival. To help with planning, if you wish to attend this meeting please email Sarah Lynch (; please also let Sarah know if you wish to present a poster. Clear Waters Oral History Project: Programme of Talks As part of the FBA Clear Waters Oral History project, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), a series of free talks will be held for the public to attend. The talks relate to the themes of the project and are intended to provide information specific to Windermere. A talk titled ‘An overview of the fish of Windermere’ will be given by Dr Roger Sweeting on Tuesday 3rd September, 6.30pm at the FBA. Future talks will include oral history and bluegreen algae. Booking is required for all talks. Further details about the talks can be found on the Clear Waters Oral History project website: Project Update: Interviewing has begun in earnest and we are hearing some interesting stories and memories from local people, anglers and former FBA staff. Our volunteer researchers are finding historic photographs and information related to our themes and our volunteer photographers are also out and about in the Lake District, taking fantastic photos of people, wildlife and landscapes. August 2013 Freshwater Matters is a monthly electronic bulletin of the most recent freshwater news from around the world, compiled by the Freshwater Biological Association (FBA). It includes updates of what is happening at the FBA and ways to get involved. Contents What’s happening at the FBA? This month’s articles Ice above Lake Vostok includes DNA from animals It smells fishy: Copper prevents fish from avoiding danger About 21,000 Species Face Extinction, IUCN Updates Red List World’s largest freshwater turtle nearly extinct High carbon dioxide spurs wetlands to absorb more carbon Robotic frogs help turn a boring mating call into a serenade Beef to fish: historic shift in food production Traitorous fish throw friends to the wolves Health of US streams reduced by stream flow modifications and contaminants And Finally: Wild beaver sited for the first time in England
  2. 2. Latest issue of Inlands Waters now published The latest issue of Inland Waters – Journal of the International Society of Limnology (Vol 3(3)) has now been published. A list of contents and abstracts can be viewed online at: showToc. Full-text articles can be downloaded by subscribers and SIL members. If you do not currently subscribe or are not a SIL member and wish to have access to the journal, please either take out an individual subscription (complete the subscription leaflet at ubscriptionLeaflet_2013ForWebsite.pdf and return to the SIL Business Services Coordinator) or recommend the journal to your library at journals/index.php/IW/user/recommendLibrary. Upcoming FBA Training Courses River InVertebrate Prediction And Classification System (RIVPACS)/River Invertebrate Classifi cation Tool (RICT) bioassessment training Date: Tuesday 1 - Wednesday 2 October; Tutor: John Davy-Bowker; Cost: £350; early bird rate £335; FBA member £325; Location: FBA River Laboratory, Dorset During this two-day course delegates can expect to gain a thorough theoretical and practical knowledge of the latest version of the RIVPACS/RICT bioassessment tool. Delegates will be able to produce biological assessments to similar standards as used by the regulatory authorities for Water Framework Directive compliance monitoring. The course will provide an introductory background to bioassessment, biotic indices, RIVPACS models and RICT, standardised RIVPACS kick/sweep sampling, collection of time variant environmental predictor variables, principles of standardised laboratory sample processing and enumeration to required taxonomic level(s)*, collection of time invariant environmental predictor variables, manual calculation of observed biotic index values (examples of major indices currently in use in the UK), introduction to the latest web based RICT software and RIVPACS IV models, preparation of data input files, running RICT in classify, predict and compare modes, interpretation of RICT outputs, quality classes and diagnosis of stress. Delegates will gain hands-on experience with RICT though exercises on shared computers. John Davy-Bowker is a knowledgeable freshwater biologist with considerable research and teaching experience, and part of the team continuing to develop the RIVPACS/RICT bioassessment tool. * Please note - this course does not cover invertebrate identification. Some prior knowledge of river invertebrate sampling and the principles of invertebrate identification would be beneficial. Freshwater fish: assessment of condition and ageing Date: Tuesday 15 October; Tutor: Roger Sweeting; Cost: £120; early bird rate £105; FBA member £95; Location: FBA Windermere, Cumbria This course is aimed at fisheries managers, fishermen and naturalists who want to know more about the fish that they see, catch or handle. Without recourse to dissection or detailed microscopy it is quite staggering how much we can piece together about a fish’s well-being and condition, its age and growth, life history and sexual development. This course aims to provide an insight into the ways of observing fish for these purposes. Roger Sweeting has spent many years studying fish health and helping to develop an understanding of how to improve fisheries for Thames Water, the National Rivers Authority (NRA), the Environment Agency and the FBA. Fish health, parasites and disease Date: Wednesday 16 October; Tutor: Roger Sweeting; Cost: £120; early bird rate £105; FBA member £95; Location: FBA Windermere, Cumbria This is an introductory course for people wanting to understand more about the parasites and diseases of freshwater fish. It will include general principles of parasitology, fish physiology and some practical dissection and microscope work. Roger Sweeting has spent many years studying fish health and has a particular interest in fish parasitology. Invertebrate identification for biotic assessment (including examination) Date: Tuesday 22 - Thursday 24 October; Tutors: Mike Dobson, Melanie Fletcher, Simon Pawley; Cost: £600; early bird rate £585; FBA member £575; Location: FBA Windermere, Cumbria This three day course covers the identification of the freshwater macroinvertebrate families used for biotic assessment (BMWP, etc.). It is aimed at professionals with some experience of identification, who wish to consolidate their knowledge. At
  3. 3. the end of the course, participants will be examined on their identification skills and, if the required standard is attained, a certificate of achievement in family- level invertebrate identification will be awarded. This course is part of a series of FBA accredited invertebrate identification courses; future courses will allow participants to demonstrate their skills in taking individual groups of invertebrates to species level. Mike Dobson is the former Director of the FBA and has extensive experience of teaching invertebrate identification at all levels. Simon Pawley and Melanie Fletcher are FBA staff who have taught on a range of FBA invertebrate identification courses. Mike, Simon and Melanie are authors of the FBA publications SP67 Guide to British Freshwater Macroinvertebrates for Biotic Assessment, and SP68 Guide to Freshwater Invertebrates. A copy of SP67 is included in the course fee for each participant. For further details or to book a place on a course, please visit fba-training-courses or contact us at or on 015394 42468. This month’s articles Ice above Lake Vostok includes DNA from animals Though sealed from the surface for around 15 million years, scientists have found traces of genetic material from a range of species in samples of ice taken from Lake Vostock, Antarctica. The amounts suggest that life may be present in very low numbers overall, but concentrated in areas of high biological activity within the lake. html It smells fishy: Copper prevents fish from avoiding danger Copper pollution inhibits the ability of fish to detect danger signals in the water according to research presented at a meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology. The presence of copper in the water affects the fish’s olfactory organs preventing them from picking up chemical cues indicating that another fish has been injured by predation. About 21,000 Species Face Extinction, IUCN Updates Red List The latest update to the IUCN Red List was released this month, and highlighted a number of freshwater species threatened with extinction. Among the species assessed, the latest update provides the first global picture of the conservation status of freshwater shrimps revealing that 28% of carideans, which include some economically important species, are threatened with extinction. extinction3a-conservationis/4793888 World’s largest freshwater turtle nearly extinct With only four known individuals remaining the Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle is one of the rarest animals on the plant and teeters on the brink of extinction. However, there is a glimmer of hope for its survival as researcher at Suzhou Zoo in China report that a captive pair have successfully mated. It now remains to be seen whether the eggs will hatch although the age of the parents is against them. softshell-turtle-animal-science/ High carbon dioxide spurs wetlands to absorb more carbon Results from a 19 year field study in the US suggest that as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise, wetlands may absorb increasing amounts of the gas helping to counteract man-made emissions. However, the study suggests that unusual weather events such as droughts which may become more common under a changing climate, could reduce many of the potential benefits as they inhibit the wetlands ability to absorb the gas.
  4. 4. Robotic frogs help turn a boring mating call into a serenade With the help of a robotic frog researchers from the University of Texas have shed new light on the way that simple traits can link together to form more complex behaviours. In an experiment published in Science this month biologists demonstrate that different combinations of visual and auditory cues can provoke the same behavioural response. The findings point to ways that complex traits emerge, and the way animal brains have evolved to process signals. Beef to fish: historic shift in food production Statistics released this month show that 2012 represented a historic shift in food production as farmed fish overtook beef production for the first time globally. Beyond economic considerations it seems that both health and environmental concerns are exerting a significant influence on people’s choices driving the change. Traitorous fish throw friends to the wolves A small fish called the astyanax found in South American rivers causes big problems when shoals swim into hydroelectric power plants. While studying ways to deter the fish two researchers from Brazil and the UK made an interesting discovery. When they tried to scare the fish away they found that the fish would turn on each other, injuring one, before making their escape. Now the researchers have examined this behaviour further and found the use of this strategy depends on the threat the fish are facing. friends-to-the-wolves.html Health of US streams reduced by stream flow modifications and contaminants The US Geological Survey has this month released the most comprehensive assessment of the health of the countries river systems ever undertaken. They found that the vast majority of rivers in urban and agricultural landscapes were impacted due to stream flow modifications and high levels of nutrient and pesticides. And Finally: Wild beaver sited for the first time in England A clash of names as a dog walker spotted what is the first wild beaver seen in England for 500 years, on the River Otter in Devon. At the moment its origin remains a mystery but it is thought that it probably escaped from captivity somewhere nearby. first-time-in-500-years.html Please forward this bulletin to any of your colleagues who may be interested!