‘The springtime SAMARCH smolt run is a great placement and I highly recommend it. I returned for a short stint again this year. Smolt migrate to sea in springtime, generally under the cover of darkness and preferentially in fast-flowing water after the environmental cue of rainfall. After a dry April, however, water levels in the River Frome were low under a thin new moon, and the smolt numbers were correspondingly low but steady. I had forgotten how beautiful smolt are; small and bright and brave as they race seawards on their life-adventure.’
Post-Covid-19 and the madness of world news in 2022, it was reassuring to see the uninterrupted rhythm of nature.
#BiodiversityDay offers us a chance to highlight the amazing diversity of species with which we share this planet. Today, we would like to showcase the fantastic Salmonid Management Round the Channel (SAMARCH) Interreg-funded, EU project.
There has been a drastic decline in the number of Atlantic salmon in the English Channel and the SAMARCH team have been researching the causes of this decline. Atlantic salmon are an iconic species and form an incredibly important part of the ecosystem of our rivers.
Find out more on the SAMARCH website about the incredible work they are doing here
In March this year, SAMARCH featured at the Family Science Fair at the Dorset Museum in Dorchester as part of British Science Week. Genoveva Esteban, Katie Thompson and students from Bournemouth University ran interactive activities on the life cycle of Atlantic salmon and showed participants how to determine the age of a fish! There was a fantastic turnout and involvement (interaction with >1,000 people!) from all visitors. If you want to know more or take part in next year’s event, please email Genoveva on email@example.com or Katie on firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to visit the SAMARCH website for more details on the EU Interreg project!
This Saturday (12th March), Cape Farwell will be hosting free
science and wildlife workshops as part of Dorchester Science Festival. We have
some fantastic activities lined up for you! Join our experts to explore the
incredible microscopic world onsite, learn about the health of wildlife in
Sydling Water, listen to the magic of underwater sound and identify birds and
their call sounds. We look forward to seeing you there.
Where: The Watershed, Sydling St Nicholas, Dorset DT2 9NS
We are excited to announce that on Sunday 13th March 2022 we
will be hosting the second Family Science Fair in Dorchester. We are delighted
to be able to host our first in person event in Dorchester since 2019, and we
can’t wait to show you what we have planned.
Come and join us and talk to real scientists! There will be a range of
interactive activities for all the family to get involved in. This includes host
stands looking at microscopic life, wildlife conservation, electrical brain
activities, local natural history and much more.
event, aimed at children aged 4 plus, but with something for people of all
ages to enjoy. Everyone is welcome.
We will be running two slots: 11am – 1pm and 2pm – 4pm. Booking is
essential for both events. For more information visit
Timed to coincide with #COP26, Cape Farewell and Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts are collaborating to host a very special climate/arts festival featuring thought-provoking and engaging new artworks, film, spoken word, music, poetry and debate, programmed to illuminate the current science and thinking around the climate emergency.
Dr Luciana Esteves will be at Cafe Scon Tuesday 2 November from 7.00pm until 8.30pm.
For an increasing number of people, coastal flooding and erosion are a real threat to property, the local economy and, in some cases, life. With the effects of climate change, this threat is quickly growing. Should coastal communities at risk be relocated before they are forced from their homes? Or could engineering and nature-based solutions provide the defences they need?
Join Café Scientifique to discover the challenges faced by coastal communities in an uncertain climate future, and what society could do to address them.
On the 3rd October, Genoveva Esteban and Katie Thompson from the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Interreg EU-funded project SAMARCH (http://theceesresearchgroups.org/samarch) took part in the first ever Weymouth Family Science Festival. They ran three interactive activities at the spectacular location: The Nothe Fort. These included learning about insects, the wonderful life cycle of the Atlantic Salmon as well as the microbial world. They were delighted with the turnout and look forward to more face-to-face events. If you have any questions, please email Katie on email@example.com or Genoveva on firstname.lastname@example.org
Non-native species are a problem in the environment when they establish new populations and disperse – i.e. become invasive. A highly invasive, global invader of freshwaters is the common carp, a fish capable of reaching weights of over 30 kg as well as producing a large number of offspring, and is proving to be an ecological and economic pest wherever it goes. They are a highly popular species for catch-and-release recreational angling (see Figure 1), as well as being an important species in aquaculture – but this has resulted in their invasion of all continents except Antarctica. They have been invading British freshwaters since at least the Middle Ages and perhaps as early as the Roman Times.
Invasive carp are well known as ecological engineering species, altering the physical habitats of their invaded freshwaters through their aggressive benthic foraging. However, what is less known is the extent of their competitive interactions with native fish species, especially those that have populations which are already threatened with issues such as habitat loss – like the crucian carp, a relatively diminutive fish in the same family as common carp and with similar benthic feeding habits and functional morphology.
Although generating understandings of the interactions of invasive and alien species can be achieved through field studies alone, a major issue with many field studies on invasive species is that they tend to have high context-dependency. For example, while studies provide interesting and useful information, that information is often only insightful to the study site in question due to, for example, issues such as a lack of data prior to the invasion, limited knowledge on the introduction event, the use of one-off sampling events, and a lack of control in the environmental conditions. In combination, this makes it very difficult to draw strong conclusions beyond the study site and species in question. To overcome these issues, in our study we completed two sets of experiments that would help us understand the competitive interactions of the invasive species (common carp) versus the threatened native species (crucian carp) under relatively controlled conditions to understand the processes that might be producing the patterns in our field data.
The first of these experiments was a set of comparative functional response experiments completed in tank aquaria. As both species shoal, we used the fish in conspecific pairs and at a water temperature that the fish typically experience in Southern Britain during summer (17 oC). We exposed the pairs of fish to a range of prey densities for fixed time intervals to determine their feeding rates. The results showed common carp had much higher feeding rates than crucian carp, suggesting they would monopolise food resources when they are together.
This experiment complemented a much larger and longer experiment completed between 2016 and 2019 in a set of three ponds that were drained prior to the experiment (so they started with no fish) and were then seeded with 100 fish of similar sizes into each pond – one with only crucian carp, one with only common carp and one with 50 of each. Although we could not replicate these treatments, we could follow the feeding interactions of the fish across the experiment through the ecological application of stable isotope analysis. We revealed that when only one species was present in a pond, the extent of the food resources each species consumed – their trophic niches – were similar. When they were together, however, the trophic niches of both species were much larger and were very different from each other (they had ‘divergent niches’). These results indicated that their interactions resulted in them having to feed on a much greater range of prey items than when they were separate, with common carp also having to alter their diet – despite being the superior competitor.
These experimental findings were then used to help us interpret the patterns in our field data from four wild ponds where the two species were present together. In all ponds, their trophic niches were also strongly diverged from each other, as per the experimental ponds, and where the comparative functional response data suggested this was driven by the strong competition pressure from common carp.
The use of the two experiments enabled us to identify that the highly invasive species – common carp – is a strong competitor and one that the threatened native species – crucian carp – finds it difficult to compete with. As common carp become more prevalent across the world’s freshwaters, the outcome for fish species already under threat, such as crucian carp, do not look favourable.
Genoveva Esteban and Katie Thompson are excited to announce the launch of a new website, Snapshot Science. They developed this website to virtually showcase the fantastic work of staff and students within the Life and Environmental Science Department (LES) in SciTech. They are will also use this platform as part of a public engagement and outreach event on 9th March 2021 during the British Science Week 2021 along with the WildlifeCraftClub. You can follow The Wessex Portal to keep updated on this new project…and give us a like on Facebook!
Thank you to LES staff and students that contributed to the website.