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Freshwater QUB Chris Harrod School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University of Belfast

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Presentation on theme: "Freshwater QUB Chris Harrod School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University of Belfast"— Presentation transcript:

1 Freshwater Biology @ QUB Chris Harrod School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University of Belfast


3 School of Biological Sciences: outline Organised into 2 separate research clusters: Ecology, Evolution, Behaviour and Environmental Economics Molecular Biosciences Microbial ecology & functional biology Identification, characterisation and function of aquatic toxins Parasitology

4 Freshwater research in EEBEE 8 academics & > 15 postgraduate research students active in freshwater biology across Ireland, the UK, Europe and further afield Broad scale – Molecule to ecosystem – Many different taxa (animal bias)

5 Ecology, Evolution, Behaviour & Environmental Economics Ecology – Invasion ecology – Autecology – Limnology – Ecosystem function – Conservation – Fisheries management Scientific support to Lough Neagh eel fishery – Environmental impact assessment – Theoretical biology – Taxonomy – Water quality Evolution – Phylogeography – Speciation & rapid evolution – Population genetics – Conservation genetics Margaritifera margaritifera Pollan Arctic charr Brown trout – Life history specialisation in invasive species – Divergent migratory components Eels Trout Lampreys

6 Ecology, Evolution, Behaviour & Environmental Economics Behaviour – Individual specialisation – Interactions between native & invasive species Functional response curves – Telemetry Acoustic & radio GPS Depth & accelerometer – Foraging ecology of piscivorous predators Environmental Economics – Economic valuation of environmental and natural resources. Willingness to pay for ferox trout conservation

7 Undergraduate aquatic ecology research

8 Current activities

9 Support for Lough Neagh fishery: Few fisheries-independent data available for management and conservation – 122 random purse seine samples distributed across the main bed of the lough – Species abundance per haul – Individual length (± 1 mm) First quantitative estimates to include eels since the ban on trawling (1980s)

10 Lough Neagh: fish community AbundanceBiomass

11 River lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis) in Lough Neagh Evidence of freshwater feeding – Scarring of resident fishes, e.g. pollan Relative impact of parasitism on different prey? Evidence for anadromous v freshwater feeding?

12 Evidence for freshwater foraging Inger et al 2010 J App Ecol 47: 121-129


14 Isotopic variation in Lough Neagh Freshwater

15 Isotopic variation in Lough Neagh & Strangford Lough Freshwater Marine

16 Cormorants: energetic conduits between aquatic habitats Freshwater Marine

17 Relative importance of freshwater v marine feeding in breeding cormorants Bird Island breeding colony Subset forage on L. Neagh (70 km) – Why? Freshwater provisioned chicks have greater condition factors R 2 =0.44, P=0.01 Brown et al, in prep.

18 Invasive species

19 Invasive Aquatic Species in Irish water bodies Funded through EPA STRIVE Collaboration with National Biodiversity Data Centre, & Central Fisheries Board QUB leading on WP2: Invasive species impacts on community structure and function – Lagarosiphon major in Lough Corrib – Leuciscus cephalus in the River Inny

20 Lough Corrib and Lagarosiphon major Kevin Gallagher (PhD student ) Paul McIlwaine (Mphil student)

21 Marked habitat shift… Pre-invasionPost-invasion

22 Mean ± 95% CI back-calculated length at age Growth rates differ in fish captured in invaded and native habitats

23 Hemimysis anomala (another Ponto-Caspian invader) Kevin Gallagher ( ) Collaboration: Dan Minchin & CFB 5 mm

24 Lough Ree: found at 4 sites (north, south, east and west of the lough). – considered widespread. Also present in Lough Key Lough Boderg (Dr Dan Minchin) no evidence of Hemimysis in Loughs Allen, Scur, Garadice, upper / lower Lough Erne or Lough Neagh. Future work More study sites Examine relative abundance at invaded sites. Public awareness campaign The current distribution and status of Hemimysis in Ireland

25 Small bodied invasive Hemimysis anomala, killed and consumed x7 more juvenile Gammarus pulex than the larger-bodied native Mysis relicta, in one third of the time. Hemimysis – 12 hours Mysis – 40 hours Hemimysis – examining feeding behaviour

26 Invasive freshwater plants in Ireland: Distribution, spread and physiological responses to climate change Ruth Kelly (PhD student)

27 Evolutionary ecology of the three spined stickleback in Ireland Important (and undervalued) ecological role Key model for evolution of new species Almost unstudied in Ireland Mark Ravinet (PhD student)

28 Mixture of lineages present in Ireland – and perhaps some uniquely Irish? Stickleback phylogeography Green = Irish populations

29 Mixture of lineages present in Ireland – and perhaps some uniquely Irish? Stickleback phylogeography Trans-Atlantic Barents Sea/North Eastern European Irish/Western European Green = Irish populations

30 Funding bodies Fisheries Society of the British Isles

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