SFG 109th meeting (Autumn 2023)

This SFG meeting had a focused agenda with a mix of presentations and discussion on current initiatives and future directions for freshwater citizen science. The programme was coordinated by Roger Owen with support from Rebecca Lewis on behalf of SFG’s Citizen Science Action Team.

It took place on Thursday 26 October 2023 as a hybrid event hosted by Nigel Willby and Alan Law at the University of Stirling, with support from key partners at UKCEH and the SFG Team. 

A foreword from Roger Owen, our Guest Coordinator on behalf of SFG's Citizen Action Team

Freshwater citizen science has tremendous potential to contribute to research, decision-making and better engagement of many sectors of society in caring about the natural environment while providing societal benefits related to education, health and empowerment. We aim to highlight examples of freshwater citizen science projects undertaken by a wide range of researchers and volunteer groups illustrating these multiple benefits to science and society. We also seek to engage in discussion about the future of freshwater citizen science in Scotland and have created agenda space to enable a two-way knowledge-exchange with SFG members during the afternoon session. 

Key SFG meeting aims:

  • To bring SFG members up-to-date with the range of new freshwater citizen science activities in Scotland and elsewhere; including opportunities to get involved wherever possible.
  • To illustrate innovative opportunities for the future of citizen science in Scotland in respect of science/policy development, engagement, wellbeing and diversification.

Key SFG meeting points (for discussion on the day):

We need the help of SFG members to scope and understand:

  1. What data and evidence can citizen science provide to allow us to identify and manage the key freshwater issues in Scotland (e.g., water quality, biodiversity, habitat, climate…)?
  2. What are the priority innovation areas required to make step changes in freshwater citizen science in Scotland (e.g., data platforms and visualisation, use of technology, change in attitudes towards volunteer sourced data, diversification of the volunteer base…)?
  3. Are there any gaps in freshwater citizen science methods, and if so how do we address them?
  4. What are the key roadblocks and risks to using freshwater citizen science more effectively, and how do we overcome them?

Agenda – “Shining a spotlight on freshwater citizen science”

09:15  In-person SFG meeting campus registration – for expected in-person SFG agenda contributors and in-person SFG members with prebooked Eventbrite ticket spaces only
09:50  Online SFG meeting waiting room opens – we warmly invite online SFG agenda contributors and SFG members attending from their preferred location to join via MS Teams early on the day
09:55  David de la Haye (Newcastle University, @DJCdelaHaye) – Underwater soundscapes in the Cairngorms (featuring Mhairi Hall)

10:00 SFG 109 Welcome, Theme and Introductions 

●    Rebecca Lewis, Scottish Freshwater Group (@Scottish_FwGrp)
●    Roger Owen, SFG’s Citizen Science Action Team Lead: Shining a spotlight on freshwater citizen science [PDF]

Morning Session on current & new freshwater citizen science projects – chaired by Richard Andrews, with support from Rebecca Lewis & Kerr Adams

10:15  Samana Tiwari (University of Dundee @dundeeuni) – Survey of attitudes to citizen science
10:30  Jan Krokowski (Scottish Environment Protection Agency @ScottishEPA) – Bloomin’ Algae!
10:45  Richard Andrews (Riverfly on the Esk @on_esk) – Riverfly volunteering and its contribution [PDF]
11:00  Jonny Archer (Tweed Foundation @RiverTweedNews) – Using anglers to understand the changes in adult brown trout stock structure within the Tweed [PDF]
11:15  Callum Sinclair (NatureScot @nature_scot) – Scottish Invasive Species Initiative: people power at landscape scale [PDF]
11:30  Rebecca Lewis (Buglife @Buzz_dont_tweet): Guardians of our rivers [PDF]
           Penny Lawson (Spey Catchment Initiative @SpeyCatchment) – Guardians of our rivers: a case study [PDF]
11:45  Edwin Peeters (Wageningen University & Research @WUR) – Lessons learned from water quality assessments by volunteers and professionals in the Netherlands
12:00  Ryan Pereira (Heriot-Watt University @HeriotWattUni) - Towards a sustainable future for Guyana's people and environment
12:15  SFG Poster presenter and demonstrator pitches with brief introductions (1 min each)

12:30 Lunch Break, Poster & Demo Session with informal networking opportunities - list below (1.5 hrs)

Afternoon session on innovations & future of freshwater citizen science in Scotland – chaired by Trine Bregstein, with support from Rebecca Lewis & Kerr Adams

14:00  Michael Pocock (UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology @UK_CEH) – Nature-based citizen science enhances people’s wellbeing [PDF]
14:15  Julze Alejandre (Glasgow Caledonian University @CaledonianNews) – A citizen-informed and sustainable mental healthcare: how can citizen science help develop blue-green prescribing in Scotland [PDF]
14:30  Willie Yeomans (Clyde River Foundation @ClydeRF) - Caring for the Clyde: two decades of environmental education and public engagement
14:45  Willie Duncan (SFG Member) – Exploring the use of a DNA method in citizen science river monitoring [PDF]
15:00  Michelle Walker (The Rivers Trust @the riverstrust) – Catchment Systems Thinking Cooperative (CaSTCo): transforming citizen science
15:15  David Newitt (University of Stirling @StirUni) – Gartmorn Dam citizen science biodiversity project 
15:30  Mike Joy (Victoria University @VicUniWgtn) – Freshwater citizen science in New Zealand [video]
15:45  SFG Citizen Science Discussion with Q&A Opportunities – chaired by Sean Robertson, with support from Rebecca Lewis & Kerr Adams
16:15  SFG Reflections, Announcements & Meeting Close – latest updates from the SFG Team [PDF]

**Followed by a social drink in the Meadowpark Hotel for those SFG members able to join us**

We were delighted to support the following SFG agenda contributions during lunch break:

●    Fiona Ware and Ashleigh Whiffin (National Museums Scotland @NtlMuseumsScot) – The Invertebrate Collection at National Museums Scotland
●    Jess Lister (Edinburgh Napier University @EdinburghNapier) – Effect of anthropogenic noise on freshwater soundscapes and stonefly communication [PDF]
●    Sean Robertson (SFG Citizen Science Action Team) – Pink salmon 
●    Roger Owen (SFG Citizen Science Action Team) – SMART rivers 
●    Trine Bregstein (Freshwater Biological Association @freshwaterbio) – Riverfly: the canaries of our rivers [PDF]
●    Emma Kelly (Freshwater Biological Association @freshwaterbio) – Discovering priority habitats [PDF}
●    Lynsey Harper (Freshwater Biological Association @freshwaterbio) – The Big Windermere Survey: a citizen science approach to monitoring water quality  [PDF]
●    Diane O’Leary and Tommy McDermott (Trex Ecology Ltd) – Freshwater pearl mussels and citizen science 
●    Scottish Wildlife Trust (Riverwoods) – Benefits of riparian woodland and its restoration
●    Clare Johnstone (The Conservation Volunteers @TCVtweets) – Citizen science in flood resilience 
●    Donna Hanley (STEM) – Learning for sustainability: a call to action for schools 
●    Donald Robertson (University of Strathclyde @UniStrathclyde) – Citizen science within water availability practices in Malawi [PDF]
●    Andrew Monk (ioLight Ltd @iolightmicro) – Empowering citizen science in harmful algal bloom (HAB) monitoring 
●    Alexandra Matzari (Heriot-Watt University @HeriotWattUni) – Virtual Reality Iwakrama Ecotourism


SFG 108th meeting (April 2023)

The 108th SFG meeting on Thursday 27 April 2023 was a hybrid event at the University of Stirling and online via Microsoft Teams. 

The meeting had an open agenda, with a mix of presentations and discussions about freshwaters for everyone to enjoy. The agenda was coordinated by Craig Macadam from Buglife and Kerr Adams from the Scottish Freshwater Group. 

A foreword from our SFG Guest Coordinator Craig Macadam from Buglife

This hybrid themed SFG 108th meeting was hosted by Nigel Willby (@NWillby) and Alan Law (@AlanLaw_) at the University of Stirling (@StirUni). With special thanks to the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (@UK_CEH), and the SFG Team, for support.

Scotland’s freshwaters are home to a huge variety of species and habitats, some of which are of international importance. The purpose of the meeting is to shine a light on some of the less well-known and less well-studied species and habitats, as well as taking in broader perspectives. 

We were delighted to bring back the lunch break poster session and networking with our poster presenters was possible both in-person and online. 

SFG Agenda Theme – Mixed Agenda

09:55   David de la Haye – Underwater voices: poetry in and out of place (featuring Sean Street)

10:00   SFG 108 Welcome, Theme and Introductions

●    Kerr Adams, Scottish Freshwater Group (@Scottish_FwGrp)
●    Craig Macadam, Buglife 

Morning session – Chaired by Craig Macadam, with support from Rebecca Lewis & Kerr Adams

10:10   James Stead (Froglife @froglifers) – Creating new habitats and raising awareness with Froglife's Come Forth for Wildlife project

10:30   Frances Orton (UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) – Water quality and land-use impacts on development of larval amphibians in the UK

10:50   Flora Rendell-Bhatti (University of Stirling @FloraRendell) – From the environment into the biomass: microplastic uptake in a protected Lamprey species [PDF]

11:15   Alan Law (University of Stirling @AlanLaw_) – Rewilding landscapes: can beaver-created heterogeneity influence biodiversity and alter connectivity? [PDF]

11:35   James Hardwick (Newcastle University) – Unravelling the role of a non-native plant species, Impatiens glandulifera (Himalayan balsam), on modulating riverbank erosion?

11:55   David Bryan (University of Stirling) – Ecosystem services provided by agricultural wetlands [PDF]

12:15   Poster presenter pitches and introductions 

12:25   Lunch break, poster session & informal networking 0pportunities 

Afternoon session – Chaired by Craig Macadam, with support from Rebecca Lewis & Kerr Adams

14:00   Nigel Willby (University of Stirling @NWillby) – Fish, lakes and eDNA

14:20   Willie Yeomans (University of Glasgow @WillieYeomans & @ClydeRF) – Fish parasites as biological indicators? 

14:40   Nicky Lustenhouwer (University of Aberdeen) – Ecology and evolution of damselfly range shifts with climate change

15:05   Niamh Smith (Glasgow Caledonian University @N_iamhSmith) – Recommendations for leveraging blue space for health: a blueprint [PDF]

15:25   Laurence Carvalho (Norwegian Institute for Water Research, NIVA @LacLaurence) – Why we need broader monitoring for more successful freshwater restoration

15:45   SFG Action Team updates

16:00   SFG Reflections, Announcements & Meeting Close – with latest updates from the SFG Team


Next meeting of the Scottish Freshwater Group will be held on Thursday 26 October 2023.