Thursday, 18 December 2014

2014 CEH photo competition winners

A recent tradition at CEH is an annual photo competition open to all our staff and students. The quality of entries this year has been fantastic. Here we share the 2014 winning images:

Landscape category

Light on a Lakeland Fell by Andrew Sier (Winner in Landscape category and overall winner):

Judges: "Lovely composition with excellent use of exposure, showing light at its best, and
conveying the power and majesty of the fells."

Sunset over the Alps by Eric Sauquet (Runner-up):

View from the Lac Fourchu (Grenoble, France)

Stepping Stones by Alan Lawlor (Third place)

On the River Duddon, English Lake District

Allium Flowers by Alan Lawlor (Fourth place)

Allium flowers, ancient woodland, Arnside and Silverdale AONB

Wildlife category

Grey Heron by Denise Pallett (Winner):

Judges: "Beautifully exposed, with great backlighting and
use of depth of field"

Nearest and Deerest by Richard Howells (Runner-up):

"Hog deer (Ciervo porcino), introduced from India into Victoria, Australia,
in 1858, are considered a pest by some, but they are a beautiful, shy
and illusive species. I took this photograph while hiking in a remote area of
Wilsons Promontory National Park, just after sunrise."

Seasonal Monarch of the Glen by Will Brownlie (Third place):

Photographed at 6am near The Devil's Point

Fox on My Allotment by Will Brownlie (Fourth place):

This Fox comes and sits with me on my allotment from time to time

Searching for Rare Arable Weeds by Nadine Mitschunas (Commended in the CEH at work category)

CEH colleague Markus Wagner during fieldwork

Surveying the Swamps by Laurence Carvalho (Commended in the CEH at work category)

CEH collaborated with SNH and SEPA staff in a 24-hour BioBlitz
to mark Loch Leven's 50th anniversary as a National Nature Reserve

Frosty Footprints by Emma Brown (Commended in the Creative category)

Along the path in Padley Gorge, Peak District

Ox-eye Daisy by Nadine Mitschunas (Commended in the Creative category)

Ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) seen from below (insect view).

Well done to all our winning entrants and thanks to the staff and students from all four CEH sites who took part!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Potential climate change impacts: a global, multi-sectoral assessment

Recent graduate Anna Feeney is currently working at CEH, helping us to prepare content for our new website (more on that in the New Year!). Anna has been getting to know our science by reading some of the recent peer-reviewed outputs authored by CEH scientists. Here she describes one paper which caught her eye:

“A new paper recently published in the journal Climatic Change explores some future climate change scenarios, and translates projected changes in meteorological conditions into a range of different impacts that might affect the day-to-day lives of millions of people.

The work was led by Professor Nigel Arnell from the University of Reading. It uses a “pattern-scaling” technique to capture the main features of available climate models from around the world including the IMOGEN model developed by CEH’s Dr Chris Huntingford, who is also a co-author of the article. The research team used 21 climate models and four possible socio-economic tracks to examine a whole host of sectors such as water resources and agriculture.

According to the authors it is potentially one of the most multi-dimensional, wide-ranging studies into climate change impacts to date.

The four socio-economic pathways represent potential future societal habits, each taking into account possible changes in consumption patterns, socio-economic behaviour and corresponding levels of carbon emissions. After combining this information with the 21 different climate change models, changes to climate could be estimated at regional levels at three different milestones: 2020, 2050, and 2080.

Aerial views during an Army search and rescue mission show damage from Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast, Oct. 30, 2012. US Air Force photo by Master Sgt Mark C Olsen (in public domain).

Under one projection for 2050, a sea level rise of 12-32cm is projected which could lead to about 450 million people potentially struggling with increased river flooding, about 1 billion other people possibly feeling increased water stress, and each year an extra 1.3 million of those living near the coast could be flooded.

The authors conclude that a planet that is on average 2.2C warmer would mean that more energy would be consumed in cooling efforts, although that increase in consumption would be offset by reduced need for heating during the colder seasons. Of particular note is that most areas would experience a fall in crop productivity, with implications for the global food supply chain.

A striking conclusion of the report is that, for many impacts, differences between driving climate models are actually more significant than the difference between the socio-economic forcing scenarios. This is mirrored in the IPCC reports, where although all models agree on at least some level of global warming, when it comes to expected changes in rainfall patterns (a key determinant for many impacts of concern) there are large parts of the world with very little agreement. It is hoped that increased data availability will be able to narrow down predictions of global water systems and that the overall uncertainty will eventually become much smaller.

For the present at least, however, adaptation policy determining how to live with climate change will have to keep in mind the complex nature of climate models and their current uncertainties, as well as the multiple potential scenarios based on how much fossil fuel is burnt in to the future.”

Anna Feeney

The open access paper can be read online.

Full paper reference: Arnell, N. W., Brown, S., Gosling, S. N., Gottschalk, P., Hinkel, J., Huntingford, C., ... & Zelazowski, P. (2014). The impacts of climate change across the globe: A multi-sectoral assessment. Climatic Change, 1-18. doi: 10.1007/s10584-014-1281-2

Staff page of Dr Chris Huntingford, CEH

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

CEH at the BES-SFE Joint Annual Meeting

The annual meeting of the British Ecological Society is a little different in 2014: for the first time, it joins up with the Société Française d’Ecologie for a joint conference.

The idea is to bring together ecologists from the two countries to promote exchange and debates and "strengthen cooperation between the French and British researchers of tomorrow". The meeting takes place at the Grand Palais in Lille, the capital of French Flanders, from 9-12 December 2014.

Scientists and students from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology are represented in a number of sessions, giving presentations and showcasing scientific posters on a range of topics including tree health, citizen science, agricultural ecology and climate change. Detailed information on all the talks and posters is available via the event app, although session and speaker names are outlined in the PDF programme.

You can also follow all the chat on Twitter with #BESSfe.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Session: Macroecology, Biogeography and Landscape 

Nick Isaac presents on Butterfly abundance is determined by food availability mediated by species traits

Louise Barwell has a poster on Predicting species distributions at fine spatial scales

Session: Welcome to the dark side - Opportunities challenges and solutions for synthesizing global soil biodiversity
Rob Griffiths presents on Soil bacterial biogeography: using landscape scale surveys to predict and interpret local effects of land use change

Session: Generation and maintenance of genetic diversity in tropical forests

Stephen Cavers presents on Understanding genetic diversity in tropical tree species

Session: Long-term monitoring in agro-ecosystems

Marc Botham presents on The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme: what can long-term monitoring tell us about the state of butterfly populations on farmland?
Session: Ecological Genetics and Molecular Ecology

Rory O’Connor (Phd student with the University of Leeds and CEH) has a poster on Habitat specialism and population genetics in the Adonis blue (Polyommatus bellargus) and Chalkhill blue butterflies (Polyommatus coridon): Higher specialism is associated with a more fragmented population structure

Thursday 11 December 2014

Session: Forest ecology

Nick Ostle (CEH Fellow) presents on Don’t mess with the moss! Boreal forest floor carbon cycling
Emma Sayer (Lancaster University) working with Lindsay Banin: Are Dipterocarps Different? The role of seedling traits in growth rates in Bornean tropical forests
Session: Infectious disease ecology and evolution

Susan Withenshaw presents on Experimental manipulation of Bartonella transmission within wild multi-host rodent communities

Session: Plant-pollinator interactions
Adam Vanbergen presents on Grazing alters insect visitation networks and plant mating systems
Session: Marine Ecology and Ecosystems

Sarah Burthe presents on Assessing the vulnerability of the marine bird community in the western North Sea to climate change and other anthropogenic impacts

Session: Conservation Ecology Management and Policy

Suzanna Mason has a poster on Change in rate of range expansion under climate change varies across taxonomic groups

Session: Plant-Soil Interactions and Biogeochemistry

Ben Jackson has a poster on Localized N2O emissions associated with actino rhizal nodules of black alder
Session: Food Webs, Networks and Complexity

Callum Macgregor (Phd with the University of Hull and CEH ) has a poster on How does light pollution affect nocturnal pollination interactions?

Friday 12 December 2014

Session: Global Change Ecology

Sabine Reinsch presents on High resolution of soil respiration measurements help model plant vs soil derived components of soil respiration under warmer and dryer conditions

Session: Ecological Implications of Tree Diseases

Lindsay Maskell presents on Tree diseases: Potential landscape changes

Michael Pocock presents on Monitoring to assess the impacts of tree diseases: integrating citizen science with professional monitoring

Session: Agricultural Ecology

Danny Hooftman presents on Enhancing environmental benefits from Agri-Environment schemes: an optimisation tool

Elwyn Sharps (Phd with Bangor University and CEH) presents on Agriculture, nest predation and trampling by livestock: Even light grazing of salt marshes causes high rates of nest mortality in Common Redshank Tringa tetanus

Session: Celebrating Citizen Science

Helen Roy presents on Celebrating 50 years of the Biological Records Centre

Jodey Peyton presents on Open Farm Sunday Pollinator Survey: Citizen science as a tool for pollinator monitoring?

Session: Invasive Species

Steven White presents on Modelling the spread of Xylella fastidiosa in Puglia, Italy

Session: Climate Change Ecology

Tom Oliver presents on High intensity land use inhibits the ability of communities to track climate warming

Session: Consumer-Resource Interactions

Sara Ball presents on Size matters: body size determines functional response of ground beetle interactions

Session: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function

Susan Jarvis presents on Species richness-productivity relationships in UK vascular plants

Good luck to all those taking part!

Related links

Storify of CEH activity at #BESSfe

British Ecological Society 2014 Annual Meeting

The Opera House in Lille, the capital of French Flanders

Friday, 28 November 2014

Assessing mammal abundance in the Chernobyl exclusion zone

You might have seen the BBC News story about brown bears photographed in Chernobyl for what is believed to be the first time. CEH scientists are working on the project which aims to reduce uncertainties in assessing the risk to humans and wildlife associated with radioactive exposure.

Prof Nick Beresford told us, "Within the TREE project (TRansfer - Exposure – Effects) the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and Salford University are using wildlife trap cameras to look at mammal abundance in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Our cameras have only just been deployed but our Ukrainian collaborator, Dr Sergey Gaschak, has had a few out in the Zone for two years.

"When he downloaded his latest set of photographs he found the first confirmation of brown bear (Ursus arctos) in the area."

Brown bear. Photo: Sergey Gashchak (Chornobyl Centre, Ukraine)

A selection of photographs from the camera traps are being published on the TREE project website. Other species already photographed include Eurasian lynx, European grey wolf and Eurasian elk.

One of the newly fitted camera traps in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

Related links

Staff page of Prof Nick Beresford, CEH

Staff page of Dr Brenda Howard, CEH (TREE Principal Investigator)

Follow Radioecology Exchange on Twitter for updates and news from the project and related work

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Helping to restore India’s rivers

Scientists from the UK’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) were in India recently (10-14 November 2014) to participate in intensive discussions with researchers from the National Institute of Hydrology in Roorkee relating to work to restore India's rivers. Mike Acreman, Cedric Laize, Harry Dixon and Nathan Rickards of CEH gave a number of presentations and took part in knowledge exchange discussions with Indian counterparts led by Dr Sharad Jain to explore how CEH expertise can help develop the scientific capacity and strengthen the local skills needed to carry out such research.

Ganges near Haridwar. Photo: Mike Acreman
The health of India’s rivers is a critical issue. Water is essential for the future well-being of the people of India and the country’s economy. Past water management has focused largely on flood protection and on delivering water for irrigated agriculture, domestic supply and hydropower generation. Stress on water resources will increase as India’s population is expected to rise from the current 1.21 billion (2011 census) to 1.6 billion by 2050.

Historically water has been supplied from major rivers. The largest and most iconic Indian river is the Ganges, which is also considered sacred by the Hindus that make up 80% of the Indian population. Despite this the Ganges has become depleted of water and highly polluted by raw sewage and industrial waste leading to loss of species, such as the river dolphin, and making it unsuitable for religious uses. The Government of India is now preparing plans to clean the rivers, beginning with the River Ganges and the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has announced funding for the Namami Ganga project of 20 billion Rupees (£0.2 billion). Restoring appropriate flows to the river will be essential to bringing the rivers back to life alongside reducing pollution.

Gauging station on the river Ganges. Photo: Mike Acreman
CEH is supporting the Indian National Institute of Hydrology to produce computer models of the Ganges and other rivers to understand the implications of allocating water to different uses and to define the flows needed to achieve levels of river health. CEH project leader Prof Mike Acreman told us that “restoring the Ganges and other Indian rivers to good health will take a long time, but we hope that the enthusiasm and local knowledge of Indian water scientists supported by CEH’s vast global research experience will help the Indian government achieve its aim”.

Additional information

Staff page of Prof Mike Acreman

Staff page of Cedric Laize

Staff page of Dr Harry Dixon

CEH's Science Areas

Friday, 7 November 2014

Monitoring biodiversity and habitats from space: a reality check

Watch a presentation on Earth Observation science, its limitations and its potential - a personal view from Dr France Gerard of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH). This talk was delivered to CEH staff on 4 November 2014.

Related links

Staff page of Dr France Gerard

Monitoring and Observation Systems Science Area

Natural Capital Science Area

CEH Information Gateway

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

National Pollinator Strategy and related CEH science

The National Pollinator Strategy was launched yesterday (4 November 2014) by Environment Minister Liz Truss. The strategy has been many months in the making and appears (judging by reactions reported in the media such as on the BBC and in the Guardian) to have widespread, if occasionally qualified, support from a large number of organisations and individuals.

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) is one of two academic partners represented on the Stakeholder Advisory Group for the strategy project and our science is integral to delivering its aims.

References in the strategy to CEH work include:

The National Pollinator Strategy refers to an existing evidence base, and makes a number of comments on future evidence requirements. The strategy is intended to lay out a 10-year roadmap for actions and lays out a number of key evidence gaps.

The science carried out at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is crucial to both understanding the current evidence base and addressing those gaps. In addition to the ongoing projects mentioned above, over the next five years scientists at CEH will:

  • Develop and test a new systematic and sustainable monitoring framework for pollinators to be implemented by professionals and by using a “citizen science” approach involving volunteers logging observations and gathering other evidence*.
  • Undertake research to quantify the impact on honeybees of two commercial neonicotinoids seed treatments in commercially grown crops of oilseed rape (‘Clothianidin’ Bayer CropScience and ‘Thiamethoxam’ Syngenta). CEH researchers have designed, and are overseeing the delivery of this pan-European, field experiment.

*The project was commissioned by Defra in summer 2014 and is being undertaken by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Leeds University, Reading University and the Open University, and entomology experts (Hymettus) and volunteers from recording schemes and societies (Bees Wasps and Ants Recording Society; Hoverfly Recording Scheme; Bumblebee Conservation Trust; Butterfly Conservation and British Trust for Ornithology).

Additional information

National Pollinator Strategy: for bees and other pollinators in England

Plan bee: New measures to protect pollinators BBC News - 4 November 2014

Will the UK's pollinator strategy be enough to stop bee decline?  The Guardian - 4 November 2014

Insect Pollinators Initiative Dissemination Event CEH blog post - 24 October 2014