Freshwater Matters June2014


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Round up of news and views from the Freshwater Biological Association

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Freshwater Matters June2014

  1. 1. Freshwater Matters What’s happening at the FBA? Upcoming FBA Training Courses Identifying chironomid larvae Date: Tuesday 15 - Wednesday 16 July; Tutor: Steve Brooks; Cost: £220; FBA member £195; Location: FBA Windermere, Cumbria There are about 600 species of chironomid midges in Britain. They can be found in all types of freshwater ecosystems, where they are often the most abundant insects. They are also sensitive indicators of environmental change and respond to a wide range of environmental perturbations including eutrophication, acidification, heavy metal pollution and climate change. Chironomid larval head capsules are also well preserved in lake sediments and can also be used to make quantitative reconstructions of palaeoenvironmental change. The larval stage, however, has an unjustified reputation of being difficult to identify. For this reason, in routine biodiversity assessments and environmental impact assessments, identification of chironomid larvae is often not taken beyond family level. As a result, information on an important element of freshwater biodiversity and a key component of ecosystem functioning is lost. This course will comprise a short lecture on chironomid biology, ecology, morphology and taxonomy followed by a tutored practical on preparation of chironomid samples for microscopical examination and guidance on identification of the larval stage of British and European species using reference slides and identification guides. Course participants will also be encouraged to bring their own chironomid samples and slides for the identification of difficult taxa. Steve Brooks has research interests in freshwater insect ecology and taxonomy and environmental change. His research at the Natural History Museum, London, is currently focussed on Chironomidae where he has pioneered their use as palaeoecological indicators. The Chironomid Pupal Exuvial Technique (CPET) Date: Thursday 17 - Friday 18 July; Tutor: Les Ruse; Cost: £220; FBA member £195; Location: FBA Windermere, Cumbria Midges make monitoring manageable! Collecting and identifying chironomid midge pupal exuviae (skins) is easy and rewarding. Chironomid taxa composition and relative abundance are sensitive to physical and chemical change in waterbodies. The collection of floating chironomid pupal exuviae at the leeward shore of standing water bodies, or behind obstructions within flowing water, provides a simple and safe means of obtaining abundant macroinvertebrate data. Using the FBA guide to chironomid pupae assists amateur naturalists, anglers and professionals to produce inventories of their local waterbodies and in monitoring June 2014 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 Methane fuels life in pristine chalk rivers Asian relative of cane toad threatens Madagascar Crane chicks hatched after special breeding programme Dam removal improves shad spawning grounds White-faced darter dragonfly reintroduced to Cheshire Warming climate found to increase hybridization in trout Links between the flow of rivers and diversity of fish species Babbling brooks bubble up methane gas The world’s largest migratory freshwater fish Global freshwater conservation gains momentum among UN countries Improved monitoring of endangered Ganges river dolphin
  2. 2. sites easily. CPET provides a unique method of obtaining representative macroinvertebrate samples, it is particularly suitable for large waterbodies and is independent of the sampler because of its passive derivation. The two-day course will provide training on: sampling chironomid pupal exuviae from waterbodies, laboratory techniques and sample preparation, the morphology of chironomid pupae, identification of chironomid pupae to the level of the Wilson & Ruse FBA Guide and data analyses to assess water quality and Water Framework Directive ecological classification. Les Ruse has been a biologist in the Water Industry for 35 years and is now an Aquatic Ecologist for APEM Limited and a Research Fellow at Roehampton University. He researched the microdistribution and ecology of chironomid larvae in river substrata while under the tutelage of Ronald Wilson at Bristol University. 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 Methane fuels life in pristine chalk rivers Naturally high concentrations of the greenhouse gas methane have been found to contribute to energy production in chalk rivers.  The study by scientists at Queen Mary University of London and led by PhD student Felicity Shelley, who is part- funded by the FBA, is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, here: Asian relative of cane toad threatens Madagascar A letter in the journal Nature this month reports that the Asian common toad, a relative of the cane toad that has devastated wildlife in Australia, has invaded Madagascar. In the letter the researchers call for urgent action to be taken to prevent an ecological disaster that could wreak havoc on the country’s unique fauna. Crane chicks hatched after special breeding programme Four hundred years after they disappeared from Britain, staff at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre in Slimbridge are celebrating the birth of two Crane chicks. The births are part of a breeding programme that aims to reintroduce the birds to the country in large numbers. Dam removal improves shad spawning grounds Research published in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society details the benefits of dam removal for survival of Shad, revealing different benefits for eggs, juveniles and adults. Being able to access higher upstream areas of the river improves survival rates for eggs and juveniles as such areas are generally better spawning grounds with fewer predators. For the adults, time spent in the river has a big impact on survival rates so any steps to improve the speed of their passage delivers benefits. White-faced darter dragonfly reintroduced to Cheshire A project to reintroduce a rare dragonfly to Cheshire has got off to a good start according to Cheshire Wildlife Trust. The project saw larvae of the White-faced darter collected from pools in Shropshire and Staffordshire, and then relocated to the Delamere Forest in what is thought to be only the second time that the reintroduction of a dragonfly has been attempted. Warming climate found to increase hybridization in trout A study published this month in Nature Climate Change provides the first direct evidence that climate change can increase cross-breeding between native and invasive species and so threaten biodiversity. The study examined the relationship
  3. 3. between native westslope trout and rainbow trout in rivers in Canada. The authors report that increasing stream temperature and decreasing spring flow has led to increasing hybridization between the two species, threatening the long term survival of the native fish. Links between the flow of rivers and diversity of fish species A study published in Freshwater Biology this month examines the link between fish species richness and flow regime of rivers across the world. The authors found that specific high and low flow characteristics are important for explaining variation in basin scale species diversity. Babbling brooks bubble up methane gas Research published this month in Global Change Biology reveals that freshwater streams, rivers and lakes may be contributing more methane gas to the environment that previously realised. The discovery has important implications for how climate scientists calculate the greenhouse gas budget. bubble-up-methane-gas.htm The world’s largest migratory freshwater fish May the 24th marked the first ever World Fish Migration Day, a day aimed at raising awareness of the diversity of migratory species and the threats that they face. To mark the occasion National Geographic looked at some of the world most remarkable migratory fish species. migratory-freshwater-fish/ Global freshwater conservation gains momentum among UN countries Following ratification by Vietnam, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses will come into effect this August, changing the way that government manage fresh water resources and ecosystems across entire river basins. gains-momentum-among-un-countries Improved monitoring of endangered Ganges river dolphin Research published this month in PLoS ONE details a new method of monitoring the endangered Ganges river dolphin – one of only four remaining freshwater cetaceans in the world. The method uses a combined visual-acoustic assessment that enables researchers to quickly detect changes in the population and so manage them more effectively. Please forward this bulletin to any of your colleagues who may be interested!