Queen’s University Belfast: muddy but productive

Staff and students (*) from Queen’s University Belfast spent a muddy, but productive, four weeks in Morecambe Bay and the Essex marshes as part of the CBESS 2013 summer campaign.

Dr John Bothwell on the mud in the Essex Marshes

We deployed double Fyke nets for 24 hours at each quadrat, using these nets to collect meiofauna and floating seaweeds, and also collected quadrat sediment cores, giving us a good overview of meiofaunal species richness.  Additional deployments of seine and push nets were carried out to supplement the Fyke net catches and improve the baseline for trophic web analysis.

Our summer Fyke net catches were much higher than in winter, with Morecambe Bay yielding large numbers of flounder and brown wracks, and Essex yielding very high numbers of crabs and the green sea lettuces (Ulva spp.); many less common species (e.g. jellyfish, eels, Crangon) were also observed at each site.  All collected net samples have been preserved in formaldehyde and will be processed over the autumn for the stable isotope analysis that will allow us to build meiofaunal trophic webs.

We have also begun the hire process for our ecoinformatic Post-Doctoral Research Assistant, and expect to appoint towards the end of Nov 2013.

* In alphabetical order: Lydia Bach, John Bothwell, Mark Emmerson, Justin Grainger, and Carl Reddin