Habitat quality, borehole insights & lake studies - CEH paperblog 4

Our latest paperblog highlights some of the recently published scientific papers led by or involving researchers from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

  • A study in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment examined relationships between habitat and breeding success for two of our common bird species, the great tit Parus major and the blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus. The aim was to determine the potential of these species to act as indicators of food resource availability for birds in managed semi-natural habitats on farmland, thus acting as a measure of the effectiveness of specific management practices under agri-environment schemes. The paper, led by CEH's John Redhead with colleagues Richard Pywell, Richard Broughton and Shelley Hinsley, followed a four-year study of breeding success using 90 nestboxes on arable farmland in central England. Researchers from the RSPB and Bournemouth University also collaborated on the study, which found that habitat within 100m of the nestbox was the most influential on breeding success.
  • Dr Chris Huntingford of CEH led a recent study published in the journal Nature, with colleagues from the University of East Anglia and the University of Exeter, which examined shifting patterns of temperature volatility in the climate system. The findings contradicted the sometimes stated view that a warming world will automatically be one of more overall climatic variation. Read CEH's press release and the Nature paper itself.
  • CEH scientists often collaborate with our NERC colleagues on particular projects and areas of research. A new paper in PLOS One led by British Geological Survey colleagues is a recent example, in which hydrogeology is used to tackle questions in groundwater ecology. In the study, the team used borehole imaging and invertebrate sampling to shed more light on groundwater ecosystems and their potential ecosystem services. (The paper is open access).
  • The Isle of May in the Firth of Forth is the location for one of CEH's most important monitoring projects, a long-term seabird ecology study. Puffins perhaps get the most column inches in coverage of this internationally recognised work, but several species of seabirds are actually monitored on the island. One such species is the European shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis), and a new paper in Ibis reveals more about the dispersal rates and distances of shags colour-ringed as chicks on the Isle of May. The paper led by PhD student Emily Barlow represents a collaboration between CEH and the University of Aberdeen.
  • The discharge of pharmaceuticals into the aquatic environment from wastewater is a topical area of discussion for researchers, regulators and the water industry. Professor Andrew Johnson has led a new study evaluating the potential environmental concentrations of four drugs from a group often featured on lists of pharmaceuticals of concern that are discharged into our river systems - the results showed considerable variation in the popularity of the drugs across Europe, with such variations potentially having an effect on the detection of these compounds in sewage effluent or river water. Radboud University and Brunel University scientists collaborated on the paper in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
  • Finally for this edition, Dr Bryan Spears from CEH has led an international team of researchers, including from Wageningen in the Netherlands, the Institute Dr Nowak in Germany and New Zealand's National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research in a eutrophication management study. The team looked at the potential for negative ecological impacts following the use of a lanthanum-modified bentonite clay to control phosphorus release from lake bed sediments. The study, published in Water Research, examined 16 case study lakes and the findings have implications for water managers worldwide.

Paulette Burns - Media Coordinator

Additional information

If you'd like a fuller picture of new papers from CEH, just follow the CEH Paper Alerts Twitter feed, which lists CEH peer-reviewed papers newly published online. Full details of Centre for Ecology & Hydrology science publications, including those published in peer-reviewed science journals, are eventually catalogued on the NERC Open Research Archive (NORA).

Those of you who follow the scientific literature will know some journal websites require registration and some are subscription-only. CEH, as part of NERC, is working with publishers and funders to make more of our output open access, and we have indicated above where this is the case.

We also publish lots of our other outputs including biological records atlases and project reports. More details can be found in the publications section of the CEH website