MSc Aquatic Ecosystem Management
Research Projects 2004

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Ecological clasification of canals in Scotland: the implications of the WFD

Nacho Grande

Under the provisions of the EU Water Framework Directive, all types of water bodies need to be assessed for ecological quality. Canals are a difficult case as they are not natural and resemble long ponds rather than rivers. A statistical model has been developed for assessing the ecological status of ponds based on macroinvertebrates (PSYM), and it is hoped to use a modification of this for canals

This is the end of the Union Canal at the SW end of Falkirk.
Sampling the bottom fauna
Sweep-sampling the fauna in the marginal vegetation
A pleasure barge passes down the new link to the Falkirk Wheel, which links the Union to the Forth & Clyde canal
The catch is transferred into a pot for transport back to the lab
More sampling at Redding Bridge on the SE side of Falkirk
A large carp was spotted at this site: introductions by anglers can cause problems for native wildlife.

Investigation of the performance of reedbeds in the purification of gulley sludge.

Erica Harrap
Bowhill Reed beds 
This series of reed beds is used in the treatment of gulley sludge: solid waste from the gulley pots (drains) which collect runoff from roads.
 Raw gulley sludge is collected by tanker and dumped in this receiving pit.
water draining from it is collected in a settlement pond 
The water then drains through a bed filled with straw bales which filter out particulates and help to remove some pollutants
The effluent from this process drains into a manhole where it is split between two parallel series of reed beds
The left-hand series was showing better reed growth in 2004: that's the bed further away in this photo.
Growth of the reeds also tails away as we progress down the series: this is the second pair of beds and the difference between left and right is striking
Beds 3L and 3R
Beds 4L and 4R
Looking up the right hand series from 4R
Looking up the left hand series from 4L
The final effluent from the beds is recombined and collected in this pond
From the pond it is pumped up to the head of the works where it is used to re-fill the vacuum tankers used to collect the gulley sludge.

Uptake of nutrients derived from fish feed by seaweeds

Sarah Hewitt

The source of nitrogen taken up by seaweed is being investigated by analysis of N -15 content, the proportion of which differs in fish feed and other naturally-occurring forms of available nitrogen.


Investigation of the freshwater algal response to improvement of water chemistry in acidified streams.

Callum Hollywood

 This project repeats an algal survey carried out in the late 1980s in the Trossachs, in an attempt to determine whether rapid-growing algal communities track the ameliorating chemical conditions, or whether, like macroinvertebrates, they lag behind.
Benthic algae are collected by hand from the stones and aquatic vegetation.
As well as picking by hand, stones are brushed vigorously to remove the closely adhering growths
The algae are examined microscopically and identified to genus or "operational taxa"
Repeated sampling allows the production of a relative abundance matrix
The data will be input into the CANOCO statistical programme and compared with data obtained in the late 1980s

Reducing the environmental impact of sea-cage fish farming through cultivation of seaweeds.

Jenni Kakkonen

The effect of culturing seaweed on nutrient concentrations in the water will be investigated


Hyporheic invertebrate distribution related to streamwater acidity.

Gary Mitchell

The hyporheic zone is the aquatic habitat within the streambed sediments, important for the incubation of salmonid eggs. Oxygen levels are influenced by the hydrological regime: whether the water is upwelling or downwelling. This project investigates the distribution of meiobenthic invertebrates in Trossachs streams whose surface waters span a range of pH values.

A pipe is inserted in the sediment to a depth of 30cm. Water is drawn into a reservoir by means of a hand vacuum pump.
As the water is pumped into the reservoir, it passes through a chamber containing a dissolved oxygen-temperature probe
The water collected is passed through a fine sieve (150 µm.) to retain the meiobenthos, and some of the filtered water is retained for analysis.
The natty headgear is an attempt to thwart the midges, but sometimes you need to see what you are doing.
The composition of the hyporheic water in upwelling and downwelling zones as well as surface water will be analysed
Meiobenthos will be identified and its distribution compared with the physicochemical nature of its source.

Identification of the fish status of Welsh streams earmarked for remediation work.

Jorge Molinos

Electrofishing surveys will be used to estimate the status of fish populations in target streams.

Phosphorus loadings in the Leet water and Lambden Burn.

Ross Woodside

The Leet Water and Lambden burn are tributaries of the River Tweed which drain relatively level agricultural land and, in contrast to the majority of the Tweed catchment, have phosphorus loadings which make them vulnerable to eutrophication. Concentrations of phosphorus will be measured and an attempt made to identify sources.