Freshwater Biological Diversity in Ireland. Dr Jim Bowman Programme Manager. Outline of presentation. 1 Overview of freshwater biological diversity 2 Protecting Legislation 3 Water Framework Directive 4 The Future. Part 1. 1 Overview of freshwater biological diversity
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Dr Jim Bowman
1 Overview of freshwater biological diversity
2 Protecting Legislation
3 Water Framework Directive
4 The Future
During the last ice age the entire country was covered by ice except for possibly a small area in west Limerick and north Kerry. The ice was up to 1,000m thick in places.
Warren and Ashley, 1994
All combine to form the Irish aquatic community
Terrestrial & Aquatic
Zooplankton spp. & Invertebrates spp.
Algae ssp. Bacteria ssp. Macrophytes ssp.
Water (H2O) + Calcium + Carbon + Nutrients (N & P) + trace elements
Each species has a specific and critical role to play in the correct functioning of the aquatic community.
If even one species is missing the system is not operating effectively.
Thus, in order for the aquatic community to function effectively it is necessary to have the full diversity of organisms present.
Occur mostly in lakes.
Planktonic forms: 1000+ ???
True plankton: <500
Maumwee: 250 species ~ 40 per sampling occasion
Ramor: 51 species ~ 15-20 per sampling occasion
Uncertainty with Taxonomy
Too few taxonomists
Rotifera: 45 species
Cladocera: 52 species
Copepoda: 30 species
Chydorids: 41 species
Ostracods: 59 species
~1900 aquatic invertebrates species in Ireland
Europe: 215 species
Britain: 55 Species
Ireland: 29 Species
Eleven “native” species
*Allis&Twaite shad: local
Arctic Char: local
3 & 10 spined stickleback
* More tidal than fresh
Three species of amphibian occur in Ireland
Rana temporaria Common Frog Very common
Bufo calamita Natterjack toad Limited distribution
Triturus vulgaris Smooth newt Widespread
Introduced new species
Invasive alien species
Most likely a natural extension of their distribution
These organisms combine to form communities in our various water categories.
These communities are not casual collections of organisms.
The community composition will depend on:
Good Quality Water Degraded Water
Good diversity of taxa Reduced diversity
Low density of organism within taxa High density of organism
(Low number of organisms (High number of organisms
per taxa) per taxa). In extreme cases you can have a monoculture (e.g. Proules R.)
Some limited improvement in water quality and species protection was achieved during the 1970’s by the setting of quality objectives through:
However, conspicuous gaps still remained in the legislation enacted to protect Europe’s water and the quality standard approach proved to be inadequate in protecting Community waters.
The European Commission encouraged by the European Parliament and Council of Environment Ministers and acknowledging the increasing concerns of its citizens about water quality, commenced a process of widespread consultation on water matters.
This process culminated with the proposal for a Water Framework Directive (WFD), which was adopted in 2000, to establish a legal framework to protect and restore water quality.
The most significant piece of legislation to date
or that we are likely to see in our lifetime dealing with water quality and quantity.
*There are provisions for derrogations and deferred objectives
Mapping of River Basin Districts in GIS Format
Characterisation of water bodies
Mapping of water bodies
Listing of pressures
Detailed risks that may cause failure to meet objectives by 2015
Economic analysis of water use Data Gathering
Implement monitoring programme
Establish chemical standards and Biological
Determine Water Body Status Linking
Set Objectives & Measures for Water bodies
Management Plans Actions & Planning
Large amounts of Chemical and Biological data gathered.
Ecological StatusChemical Status
Biology Phytoplankton List of 41 Chemicals
Oxygen & Temp
Biological ElementElement Descriptors
Phytoplankton: Composition + Abundance + Biomass (3)
Phytobenthos: Composition + Abundance (2)
Invertebrates: Composition + Abundance (2)
Fish: Composition + Abundance +Age structure (3)
The highest quality unimpacted sites for each waterbody type in each water category, where there are no pressure influences, have been chosen and their biology examined.
These sites are referred to as being in Reference condition.
The status of waterbodies in the monitoring programme will be determined by expressing deviation from the particular Reference condition for that waterbody
EQR close to 1
No or very minor deviation from undisturbed conditions
High status or reference conditions (RC)
Slight deviation from RC
Moderate deviation from RC
EQR close to 0
The objective of the WFD is to achieve good or high status biological communities.
Means achieving a high level of biological diversity
Preservation of the aquatic community is the preservation of its biological diversity
Making the FirstRiver Basin Management Plans
Purpose: to meet objectives of WFD
Who is doing it: Local Authorities and Public Authorities
Draft plans completed 2008
Final plan to be ready Autumn 2009
Implement in period 2009 - 2015
Prediction: increased temperature, wetter winters, drier summers and more extreme weather events.
But most importantly
EU Commission putting great emphasis on: